Denys Edwards Players’ Blackadder Goes Forth – 19 April 2024, Dronfield Civic Centre

Review by Sue Curr.

The latest offering by Denys Edwards Players for the theatre going public of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire of ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ – did not disappoint on any level.

Under the knowledgeable guidance of Director Andy Hibbert, this particular DEP cast delivered a very polished version of Blackadder Goes Forth.

Given the limitations of The Dronfield Civic Theatre this was by any benchmark, no mean feat but equally was made possible by the very effective dual use of the static staging of a World War One bunker coupled with projection of scene setting backdrop imagery. It was effective throughout but never more so than in the extremely well executed final scene which truly encapsulated both the horror and futility of war.

Born on the back of the original Blackadder Goes Forth TV series, the natural inclination of any audience member would be to draw comparison between the actors on stage and their famous TV counterparts. Many would have us believe that ‘imitation is the best form of flattery’ – I don’t agree, nor did I have to, as I watched eight actors take to the stage and see each of them, create characterisations they could have and hold as their own.

Yes of course there were points it was impossible not to compare the actors onstage with their very famous TV alter egos but they were almost entirely driven by an iconic script that at times renders comparison unavoidable and as such, should (and were) embraced as a gift.

That said, it’s every actors responsibility to create their own original, believable, non stereotypical characterisations – this cast did that in spades. There wasn’t one weak link onstage, every single actor had clearly worked very hard to create excellent characters which in turn created an overall excellent production but special mentions to:

Andy Hibbert, who as well as directing, also gave a very versatile, accomplished portrayal of George as he switched effortlessly between portrayals of the epitome of an upper class army officer and his flighty alter ego Georgina.

James Hashem, was very comfortable in the lead role of Capt. Edmund Blackadder, gave a portrayal which at times was delivered a little too quickly but overall, equally painted a picture of a consummate if ‘slightly bonkers’ Commanding Officer that was on point, fluent and believable.

Michael Dempsey’s portrayal of Baldrick was a classic example of an actor taking an iconic role and making it his own. He expertly brought together all the much loved facets of Baldrick: slow of thought, eager to help with his ‘cunning plans’, always a step, a thought, an action behind everyone else but did so in such an understated way that his facial expressions, body language and excellent use of ‘pause’ said far more about his ability as an actor than any script delivery could ever do, he was simply awesome.

In my experience, as a company, a cast, and yet another awesome production under it’s belt Denys Edwards Players rarely, if ever fails to please it’s audience and Blackadder Goes Forth is no exception.

They took a well loved, much cherished piece, treated it with love, respect and an understanding of how best to make it work on a stage, which at best is very limiting in itself – and it worked!

Congratulations to EVERYONE who had a hand in bringing this production to life, you are proof were it needed that ‘teamwork makes the dream work’.

2 thoughts on “Denys Edwards Players’ Blackadder Goes Forth – 19 April 2024, Dronfield Civic Centre

  1. Thank you for this review. Made my heart dwell with pride. Your last remark is so true, teamwork at its best.

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