Published on January 17th, 2017 | by Juliet England0
Review: No Naughty Bits – Progress Theatre
Anyone looking for a winter warmer of a show to cheer up one of the long, dark, chilly evenings or offer a break from Brexit/Trump/Syria or even just Death in Paradise for an hour or two, could do far worse than to bowl along to Progress Theatre for a bit of restorative comedy.
No Naughty Bits, by Steve Thompson, depicts the mid-1970s legal battle between the Monty Python team and US network ABC’s censoring of the ‘naughty bits’ of their work and replacing them with adverts. Persuaded by the Pythons’ publicist Nancy (Kate Shaw), a young, reluctant Michael Palin and the excitable Terry Gilliam fly to New York in a bid to get the ‘naughty bits’ reinstated.
Cue cross-Atlantic cultural collisions (‘People in Idaho will watch this’), and a court scene that at times feels like one long, Pythonesque sketch.
This really was a fine production from the whole Progress team, with, as ever, some brilliant attention to period detail (down to the battered New Yorker magazine copy), and a fantastic set.
Consistently good acting from across the non-professional cast and some strong direction from Aidan Moran ensured that justice was done to Thompson’s very funny script. Dan Clarke in particular was on fine form as the mostly mild-mannered Palin, who could, nonetheless, occasionally explode into a manic fit of rage.
This play is also an exploration of the nature of censorship, especially in the second half, and the production brings that aspect out well, too.
There probably aren’t that many things worth braving the cold, dark and wet for of an evening at this time of year. No Naughty Bits at Progress just might be one of them, whether you’re a diehard Python fan or have never seen any of their work before.
No Naughty Bits is running until Saturday 21 January.
Photo courtesy of Aidan Moran.