Published on September 10th, 2016 | by Liz Allum0
Review: The Great British Bump Off
This highly entertaining newly written play from Reading greats Benedict Sandiford and Sabina Netherclift is an homage to the great British farce, murder mysteries in sleepy villages and the Victoria Sponge. Three perfect ingredients mixed together with a generous helping of absurdity, gives rise to a deliciously silly treat.
The scene is instantly recognisable, heritage blue painted workstations, the peak of the great white tent and a gingham altar take us straight to Bake Off world which, with its similarly predictable and foolish comedy is the perfect setting. The local ‘Time To Sing’ choir introduce each scene and each scene change with the theme tune from Miss Marple, and punctuate the hilarious and visible costume switching between characters, which increase in quantity and speed as the farce spirals to its meringuey peak. The effortlessly familiar and similarly ridiculous village murder mystery compliments the baking competition and classic farce perfectly. Who else would you have then to decorate and garnish but the Women’s Institute, a local Scout group and a community choir!
All four lead performers are immensely enjoyable to watch, but Cassie Friend steals the show with her physical comedy and self-referential comments out of character and of course, her troupe of Scouts! Toby Davies’ performance as the vicar’s wife, with ill fitting cardigan and wonky wig warrants a particular mention, and of course what Bake Off would be complete with a strangely familiar Paul Hollyhock, with a hint of a Merseyside accent and the sleuth Janet Marpsbury, with her floral jacket and pearls, played effortlessly by Sandiford and Netherclift.
As the sieving gets increasingly frantic and flour drifts through the air of the Hexagon, and the characters start to forget which scene they’re in and which wig they’re supposed to be wearing, the audience completely succumbs to the farce, relinquishing any idea of the plot to just enjoy the sheer hilarity of what is happening on stage.
The only disappointment with this show is that we are not given a slice of Battenberg on the way out! But don’t worry, there is some for sale in the foyer, of course!
This piece was commissioned and produced by South Street Arts Centre, in collaboration with the Hexagon as part of Reading’s Year of Culture.