REVIEW: The Hartlepool Monkey at Nuffield Southampton Theatres

The Hartlepool Monkey at Nuffield Southampton Theatres
The Hartlepool Monkey at Nuffield Southampton Theatres
Rita Simons as Paulette and Ben Harlow at Kyle in Legally Blonde - The Musical.

BIG INTERVIEW: Rita turns to EastEnders for some sisterly musical guidance

REMOTE at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth. Picture: Richard Lakos

REVIEW: REMOTE at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

0
Have your say

Legend has it that a French ship was wrecked off the Hartlepool coast during the Napoleonic wars.

Its two survivors were a cabin girl and the ship’s mascot – a monkey dressed in a uniform. So frightened of French invasion were the locals and so ignorant of what a Frenchman looked like, they tried the monkey as a spy and hanged him. As the opening of the show demonstrates, that is not a spoiler.

Innovative theatre company Gyre & Gimble has forged a reputation for brilliant puppetry, as anyone who saw Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s Running Wild last year will know. Here, with Carl Grose’s script, they have created a funny and emotionally charged telling of the tale, with a young audience in mind.

A strong ensemble of seven have great fun with multiple characterisations and lusty song while cleverly manipulating a set made from mobile objects, pulleys and wires, itself at times like a giant puppet.

For all the horrible history knockabout of the show, it has a dark heart. It is about bigotry and a fear of what cannot be easily understood. The clear star of the show is the hapless monkey, an expressively articulate puppet made terrifying, terrified and touching by a collaboration of actors led by Fred Davis who also gives him his eloquent ‘voice’.

Until Saturday.