The Emperor’s New Clothes (Review)

The Emperor’s New Clothes Kingston Bagpuize Drama Group Southmoor Village Hall 26th-28th November 2015. In a significant departure from their usual fare, Kingston Bagpuize Drama Group chose The Emperor’s New Clothes as their winter production. Based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, and adapted for the stage by Richard Hellesden, the production edges towards Pantomime and tells the story of a self-possessed Emperor who completely disregards the responsibilities of his elevated position in his obsession to update his wardrobe, his sartorial ambitions being his sole interest.
Brushing aside the efforts of the Royal Tailor admirably played by Sally Lacey, he is convinced by two rogues that they can make him the perfect outfit.
The play opens with the hall doors being thrown open and the two aforesaid scallywags chased through the auditorium in keystone cop style by Susi Dalton in the guise of the local bobby. This nicely set up theme as the two crooks having evaded PC Dalton conspired to make their fortune when they meet the Emperor and in short order arrange to fit him out in the perfect garb.
The First Rogue was played by Andrea Spencer who, clearly relishing the part, gave us her full range of facial expressions and ‘Arrghs’ in true Robert Newton fashion. Backed up by Emily Eastham as her cohort the Second Rogue, they injected life and pace into the production and knitted the whole thing together in some style. The interplay between Emily and Andrea was excellent as well it should be after the number of productions this talented duo have been in together over the last twenty years.
For the first night there were a respectful number in the audience and further respect is due for the lack of prompts (if any).
The two rogues convince the Emperor they can make him a suit to end all suits, but it will be expensive and magic as it can only be seen by people of high intelligence not by those of less intellect and not deserving of their jobs. Hence when the outfit is delivered all the Emperor’s henchmen think it’s superb and well worth the cash, which has now bankrupted the nation.
Mike Lacey cringed and whinged through the entire plot in a perfect rendition of the Royal Treasurer seeing the gold in his coffers draining away to the two fake tailors.
The General played by group new comer George Bonner looked and sounded the part of the military man who, to keep his job, goes along with the plan prancing around the stage in his underwear (very fetching I must say) whilst pretending he too has one of the magic suits ordered by the Emperor for his staff.
Now it is up to the daughter of the Royal Tailor (remember her) young Amelia to put the Emperor straight and tell him he has been conned and he and his courtiers are in fact next-to-naked. The rogues are then caught and the original Royal Tailor is re-appointed and all ends well.
Amelia is another first timer with KBDG and one to keep an eye on for the future methinks. For such a young girl Rebecca Bellis as Amelia was nothing short of superb. Confident, seemingly word and diction perfect, her performance was an absolute pleasure to behold.
The same goes for yet another newcomer Neil Browning as the Emperor. Neil was well chosen for the part with his booming voice and youthful looks he came across well as the incompetent Ruler and the scene where he realises he has been duped was convincingly played and you did feel sorry for the guy.
So that just leaves Mary Elizabeth Shewry who regally played the part of the Queen. Mary Elizabeth looked and sounded just like HM Elizabeth 2 and I reckon Helen Mirren should be careful as her position as number one stand in for HM could be in jeopardy here.
Full marks then to Director Sandra Sabathy in her directorial and KBDG debut. The audience seem to thoroughly enjoy the experience and if I’m honest I did too, far more than I thought I was going to.
Sound and lighting were fine, the only aspect of the production I can criticise was the set, it lacked a little finesse I thought and could have been a tad more professional, but that’s not to detract from an otherwise fine production. Well done KBDG.

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