The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford
Thursday 20th September 2012
The world of Inspector Clouseau first graced cinema screens back in the 1960s and the series of films are still popular today. This farcical, surreal style of comedy had wide appeal, and although now a little dated the silly plot lines still elicit some laugh out loud moments.
Transferal to the stage is a tricky business, with the plot requiring so many changes of location. Dealt with here by some (slightly dusty) black flats instead of a set, and members of randomly costumed supporting cast bringing on props and items of furniture, each scene was well lit with an interesting array of effects. Costumes were bright and mostly well fitting, with the mix of nationalities dressed in unashamedly stereotypical style.
The performance highlight was most certainly Natalie Sant's Olga, passionate and ruthless she looked and sounded perfect for this role, giving a funny and memorable interpretation. Murderous madman Dreyfus was performed with zeal and a glint in his eye by William Wells. Cross-dressing Jarvis was played with an almost straight-face by Martin Harris. The pivotal role of Clouseau himself was bravely attempted by Justin Cartledge. He spoke mostly too quickly and quietly to understand, and so unfortunately lost the humour of the exaggerated French accent with which Peter Sellers made the character so famous. His slapstick recreation of the bumbling detective however was physically good, with an awful lot of business to perform. The supporting cast were all enthusiastic, with a ranging success of accents on display.
EDP state an intention "to produce high quality entertainment at reasonable prices". By charging the same rates as the professional dramas that are gracing the Cramphorn this season, more than is charged for non-musical amateur drama anywhere else in Chelmsford, my expectations were understandably high. With no set and few props there was little for the ticket income to have been spent on, and this entertaining but undoubtedly amateur production did not offer the value for money EDP express an aim to provide. A young society, set up in 2010, EDP still have some mountains to climb if they want to compete on value for money in Chelmsford's amateur market, let alone compete with the professional shows they rate themselves against.