Review - Dead Sheep at Royal & Derngate, Northampton
Anticipointment is a recent addition to our ever increasing vocabulary and this is probably how I felt about this show.
Meaning anticipating something but being disappointed by the end result, in the wake of the turbulent time with the political landscape, I was looking forward to this show enormously. All of the elements were there.
Set throughout Margaret Thatcher’s time as prime minister, it tells the tale of how Geoffrey Howe bought down her 11 year reign as PM.
But very little about this play seemed surprising even if, while I am not quite old enough to rememeber it the first time round, is familiar enough for those who have taken a brief look at this country’s history.
It sadly feels far too much like a history documentary with a few jokes thrown in. Even the jokes that do come, you can see them coming a million miles off.
Even the most surprising part of the show is a let down. Steve Nallon, who so memorably voiced Mrs Thatcher on Spitting Image, plays the part so straight that it lacks any real humour aside from a few tired jokes about her having balls. Given how straight it was done, you could easily have had a woman play the part, although maybe it was making a point about how many women were around politics in the 80s, but it misses the mark.
Christopher Villiers is arguably the best part with his take on Alan Clark, Bernard Ingham and Neil Kinnock absolutely spot on.
My other main criticism is that there is not a lot pace within the show. There’s a real lack of urgency about the piece and that combined with the predictable events make for a difficult watch.
There are some topical jokes at the expense of UKIP, Corbyn and the EU but they’re all a bit unoriginal.
On a positive note, the play is well balanced with both sides point of view put and it definitely has something to say about the events of today, even if they don’t quite punch through.
The play was lapped up by an audience who seemed to enjoy it more than I did. Sadly I found it as predictable as me telling you where you can get tickets in the next paragraph.
Dead Sheep runs until Saturday. For tickets call the box office on 01604 624811 or visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk.