Juggling act for New Apollo crew

Omid Djalili in Fiddler on the Roof at Chichester Festival Theatre

REVIEW: Fiddler on the Roof at Chichester Festival Theatre

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Recently New Apollo have had to manage a bit of a juggling act. The group performed The Signalman last week at the Kings Theatre, the actors are in the midst of rehearsals for a new production of Habeas Corpus and they are all preparing for Looby Loo, a new play, that was performed at The Cellars at Eastney and The Florence Arms and is now making its way to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.

As we speak Christopher Marlowe is trying to work out the logistics of performing the play in the Scottish city, and rehearsing for his starring role as Doctor Arthur Wicksteed in Alan Bennett’s Habeas Corpus, which is being performed at the Kings Theatre, Southsea on June 13-14.

Christopher says: ‘I’m fascinated by the play. It has so many styles. Basically it’s a saucy farce, There are all these different elements with Shakespeare’s sonnets, musicals and pantomime rhyming couplets.

‘All these styles relate into one. It’s Bennett’s first play written in ’73 and he’s a bit bonkers, but it works beautifully.’

It follows the ageing Arthur Wicksteed and his pursuit of a patient, Felicity Rumpers. Wicksteed’s wife, Muriel, is, in turn, lusting after the charming head of the British Medical Association, Percy Shorter.

But there’s a slight problem when he turns out to be Felicity’s father – all thanks to an air-raid liaison with Lady Rumpers.

Meanwhile Felicity is pregnant, Arthur’s sister Connie is dreaming of getting a larger bust, and there’s a patient who keeps trying to kill himself. Then there’s Mrs Swabbs the housekeeper.

Christopher adds: ‘She breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience what is going on. It’s unusual to do it in a play but Mrs Swabs and I tell the audience, which we don’t normally do.

‘I’m fascinated by it. Arthur Wicksteed is slightly nutty and is going through a mid-life crisis. They’re all crazy characters and I’ve never done a play quite like it.’

But as always there’s already a slight problem with one of the props as he says: ‘We need to borrow a 1960s Hoover off someone! We were lent one but it’s not quite right, so we’re desperately trying to get another one.’

While rehearsing for the play, New Apollo is getting ready to perform Looby Loo at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The comedy is about Looby Loo, Andy Pandy, Teddy and Auntie, from the 1950s BBC childrens’ TV show Watch with Mother.

The play will appear at the C venue studio, near Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, from August 4-19 at 9pm.

Christopher says: ‘We’re very excited even though it is causing a lot of headaches! You share the dressing rooms with hundreds of others, but we’re thrilled with it.

‘We thought we might get a morning slot because we’re quite a new company, so the evening is great.’

n Tickets cost £10 to £12 from the Kings Theatre, Southsea on (023) 9282 8282 or go to kings-southsea.com