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Enjoy the hilarious antics of Capt Mainwaring's Home Guard
David Benson and Jack Lane have to be one of the finest, and funniest, double acts around. They may not be as universally well known as the legendary Morecambe and Wise, or the current TV pairing of Ant and Dec, but the way that Benson and Lane manage to deliver not one, but three episodes of the long-running classic sitcom Dad's Army is pure comedy gold. Between them, the two actors provide the voices of some 25 largely familiar characters in this delightful live stage production, simply titled Dad's Army Radio Show, which was performed at Tamworth Assembly Rooms in Staffordshire on March 5 as part of a UK tour. The show is based on the original television series of Dad's Army, which recounted the exploits of a fictitious Home Guard unit at the start of World War Two. The TV series ran for nine series between 1968 and 1977, and also led to many of the 80 episodes being remade for BBC Radio 4 for two years in the mid-70s.
David Benson (left) and Jack Lane star in Dad's Army Radio Show. Photo James DP Drury
With just two microphones and their own creative talent to support them, Benson and Lane give flesh to David Croft and Jimmy Perry's wonderful, larger-than-life characters during three half-hour episodes of the nation's favourite sitcom. Fans of the classic television series will have been filled with nostalgia as they watched the two-man stage performance of all three storylines, starting with 'When You've Got to Go', followed immediately by 'My Brother and I', and culminating with 'Never Too Old' - the very last Dad's Army episode - after the interval. Benson and Lane hilariously and lovingly re-enact the episodes in this terrific production which celebrates 50 years of the classic sitcom. They successfully transport the audience to Walmington-on-Sea with the help of just a few sound effects and some vintage music. In fact, so successfully do they recreate all the much-loved characters such as Captain Mainwaring, Sergeant Wilson, Corporal Jones, Pike, Frazier, Godfrey and the rest, that if you close your eyes you can easily imagine you are listening to a re-run of the television series.
The two actors provide 25 characters between them. Photo James DP Drury
After an introductory air-raid siren, and extracts of speeches by Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill, Benson and Lane emerge to the famous Dad's Army signature tune of 'Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?' In the opening episode of 'When You've Got to Go', Private Frank Pike is called up by the army, leading to the first of many complicated exchanges, this time with Jack Lane playing both Pike and his mother Mavis in conversation with each other. This opening exchange also sees the introduction of Sgt Wilson, with David Benson effortlessly taking on the voice and mannerisms made famous by John Le Mesurier. It is not long before their roles are both significantly increased, with Lane wonderfully taking on the pompous Mainwairing and loveable Cpl Jones, and Benson also providing the voices for Frazer, Godfrey, warden Hodges, the vicar, and Mr Yakeman the verger who consistently got the biggest cheers of the night.
Lane and Benson bring the classic TV sitcom to lfe. Photo James DP Drury
In 'My Brother and I', Capt Mainwaring is put on the spot when his drunk of a brother Barry suddenly turns up to gate-crash an important function which Mainwaring is hosting. And, in 'Never Too Old' Cpl Jones and Mrs Fox, again splendidly portrayed by Benson, find romance during the dark days of 1942. All in all, the two actors, who were dressed in Home Guard uniform throughout, provided a thoroughly enjoyable evening, as typified by Jones's comment when he hurt his finger: "Don't worry about my trigger finger, I'm amphibious".
Rating: 5 out of 5
More information about forthcoming shows at the recently re-opened Tamworth Assembly Rooms can be found online or by calling the Box Office on 01827 709618.