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Unimportant History Of Britain, The
It is essentially a succession of sketches, historical vignettes, linked by what looks like brilliant ad-lib of the kind that can only be achieved when it is meticulously rehearsed - though full credit to the performers and director Martin Cort that it seems so apparently spontaneous. It is not entirely unimportant history - in one episode we get Henry VIII not only getting rid of wives but changing British history with the creation of the Church of England and here it's typical of the writers that they have noticed that of Henry's ministers and advisers Wolsey, More, Cranmer and Cromwell, were called Thomas - and when all played by the same actor in quick succession that's a gift to comedy - and by the way, it's a Wild West king with a Chicano Katherine.. The Romans and the Victorian get totally discarded and, apart from Hastings and the Bayeux tapestry (where they follow the old interpretation that makes it Harold with the arrow in his eye), there's not much else you'll remember from the history books and the lesser figures and 'unimportant' incidents they celebrate are unlikely to be unearthed by the most diligent researcher unless given access to the dramatist's imagination. There's Geoffrey Chaucer's brother whose written a three-volume epic set in Hell, Purgatory and Paradise and is trying to place it with an agent, Horatio Nelson's doctor sibling who can't bear the mention of his brother's name, but has a very practical method of giving timid people confidence, and a nurse who works with Florence Nightingale and has a way with maggots. Stonehenge becomes a crime scene and those stone working ancestors developing a prototype square get a juicy commission for a huge round table. From answering William Blake's question 'and did those feet. . .?' by a 'walking-on-water' demonstration to the revelation that champagne was actually invented by the Cornish, this is a succession of wild imaginings that keeps on generating laughter. The 20th-century is represented by a Just a Minute programme segment that features Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Mahatma Ghandi and an invisible Harry Houdini who is shut up in a stone box, and a James Bond sequence - definitely Connery, Cowell has carefully studied the accent, and with Blackwood's Blofield stroking a tiny woolly leopard, their combined dialogue contrived to include the titles of all the Bond movies.
- Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide
written by Robert Blackwood And Nick Cowell
Lion and Unicorn Theatre 2009
Interrupt the Routine
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