In the face of the relentlessly paced Edinburgh festival, Blue Fire (who feature some familiar faces to Mark Aspen readers, from their sold-out run at Hampton Hill Theatre earlier this year) are still able to enchant with some vintage theatre magic.
Edinburgh is an enigma. The largest festival of its kind, this year it will see literally thousands of shows play at over four hundred venues, and every year it grows at a relentless pace. It’s reputation for the new, for being a theatrical barometer of the nation is undoubtable. This year shows about Brexit, the NHS and Feminism abound… but lest we forget our own theatrical heritage, old gems can still shine.
old gems can still shine.
‘Red Peppers’ is Noel Coward’s one act devotion to the music hall; it’s customs, it’s acts and it’s bawdiness. The Red Peppers, are comedic husband and wife duo, George and Lily Pepper. Onstage, a picture-perfect-postcard (the naughty seaside kind) of harmony and timing in their matching sailor suits. It is when the wigs come off backstage that the gloves are off too. They bicker with each other, with the puffed-up moustached Theatre Manager and the somewhat-sozzled musical director who practically brings the curtain down on the Red Peppers’ luridly bright red heads, after they dare to cross him.
It is this snapshot of British theatre culture, that the young boy observes “Talent must prevail”. The old must make way for the new, it is the natural order of things and it is (both tragically and comically) the way of the theatre, too. It must move with the times, and Red Peppers perfectly epitomises this. The next act is always waiting in the wings, dreaming of going on, theatre managers continue to think they know better(!) than the acts they represent and musical directors, well, I can only assume they still maintain that they are always right.
Some lovely touches have been applied by Blue Fire’s director to really bring the era back to life. Watch out for the theatre manager lurking in the box office, ready to take your tickets! It’s truly a touching performance, that really serves Coward’s legacy as well as its Fringe audience.
serves Coward’s legacy as well as its Fringe audience.
Far from crying out for something new, the only complaint I heard on the lips of the crowd as they dispersed into the Edinburgh drizzle, was disappointment that the show did not go on!