Portsmouth Players bring classic BBC sitcom ’Allo ’Allo to the stage

Allo Allo by the Portsmouth Players. Picture by Louise Lovesey
Allo Allo by the Portsmouth Players. Picture by Louise Lovesey

Based on the hugely successful British television series that ran for seven seasons, this uproarious comedy relates the adventures of a hapless cafe owner, Rene, in occupied France.  

You can see all of your favorite TV characters from ‘Allo ‘Allo in the flesh, including Rene’s tone-deaf wife Edith, Major-General von Klinkerhoffen and the Gestapo officer Herr Flick.

He and his wife have stashed a priceless portrait stolen by the Nazis in a sausage in their cellar, where two British airmen are also hiding until the Resistance can repatriate them. Communications with London using the wireless that is disguised as a cockatoo add to the many embarrassments this intrepid proprietor endures in the company of his patrons.

News that the Fuhrer is scheduled to visit the town inspires tricksters disguised as Hitler to frequent the cafe. Meanwhile Rene summons all the wit he can muster to save his cafe and his life.

Portsmouth Players’ regular Jack Edwards is co-directing the show with Jason Christopher.

Jack says: ‘We decided we’d do a co-direction on this one and it’s been really good fun.

‘I don’t perform as much any more, I’ve taken a step back what with the Gaiety Bar,’ on South Parade Pier where he is also co-director, ‘and everything, so I said I’d take a year off from acting. I’m still doing little bits here and there – I’m doing panto this year over Christmas,’ he’s playing the wicked stepmother in Cinderella at The Kings Theatre, ‘and there are other bits and pieces where I’ll be doing one-man shows, but I’m not doing anything like a musical which would take up too much time.

‘But I’m still production manager for Portsmouth Players and I’ll always be part of this because this is where I started and I always feel like I’ve given something back.’

And the company has found the BBC classics are popular with audiences.

‘We’ve done the Vicar of Dibley, we’ve done Hi De Hi! We found that they really work well, there’s so many of them and we know that they work because people do relate to those shows. We’ve already sold out Thursday night, which is great, and the other nights are going well too.

It’s ‘Allo ‘Allo, it’s what people love, it’s what people have grown up with, so when it came up we said let’s do it.’

For those of us who remember it, amazingly the show finished 26 years ago in 1992.

‘It’s quite scary. When you say “the ’90s” you don’t think about how long ago it was!’

The show was packed with well-identified characters, which has made rehearsing a little different to usual for the cast. ‘These are iconic characters – everyone knows all the catchphrases. That’s been the difficult thing about rehearsals, as much as you want to make the show your own, you can’t really with a show like this. You have to say, guys just watch the series and pick up the mannerisms. If you start trying to do your own thing, as far as I’m concerned, you’ve lost me. But they’re doing what needs to be done for the piece. I’m proud of them.’

And don’t expect any highbrow comedy here: ‘It’s just a raucous comedy. It’s one of those shows where you haven’t got to think – it’s just silly. It’s a bit of fun where you can come and forget everything for a couple of hours.’

‘Allo ‘Allo

The Thatched Barn, Milton

July 18-21

portsmouthplayers.co.uk