Victorian farce Charley's Aunt gets a modern tickle by HumDrum troupe as it comes to The Spring Arts Centre, Havant

Following their successful Ghost Stories at The Spring in Havant last October, HumDrum are returning to the venue with Brandon Thomas’ ever-popular Victorian farce, Charley’s Aunt.

Friday, 10th June 2022, 10:15 am
Updated Friday, 10th June 2022, 10:15 am

The story concerns two Oxford students, Charley and Jack, about to go down from university, who have fallen for two young ladies.

The young ladies are happy to visit for tea, as long as there is – in line with Victorian moral-standards – a chaperone present.

As it happens, Charley’s aunt, an exotic millionaire by the name of Donna Lucia D’Alvadores gets in touch to say she is paying a visit. The lads see in her the perfect chaperone.

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Humdrum stage Charley's Aunt at The Spring Arts Centre, Havant from June 15-18, 2022. In rehearsal, from left: Nathan Blake, Rob Scott-Moore, Leila Morello, Lauren Haskett and Michael Gondelle

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An invitation is issued and accepted and all is going well – until Donna Lucia cancels the visit.

What else can the lads do but get their friend and fellow-student, Lord Fancourt Babberley, to dress up as a woman and pretend to be the missing aunt…

Starring as Fancourt Babberley is relative-newcomer to the HumDrum-fold, Nathan Blake.

‘This is only my third show with the company and only my second appearance onstage for them so it’s very exciting to be cast in a part like this.

‘It’s typical farce – the second scene in particular – with people running in-and-out, mistaken identities, cross-purposes galore, is very funny and the ending ties everything up nicely for everyone.

‘There are some lovely performances and we think – we hope – people will love it.’

Director James George warns that fans of the play may be surprised – either pleasantly or unpleasantly! – by changes the company have made to the script.

‘We came to the piece knowing it for a comedy, but were aware that a lot of the humour is now masked by the changes in language between 1892 and 2022.

‘As we rehearsed we realised that loyalty to the text might, in fact, be detrimental to a modern audience’s enjoyment. As the play is out of copyright we decided that when a joke had been fogged by the language-differences we would modernise as painlessly as possible. Hopefully this will make a lot of the humour more accessible to our audiences.’

The play runs from Wednesday to Saturday, June 15-18, at 7.30pm and with a matinee on the Saturday at 2.30pm. Go to thespring.co.uk.