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Game Of Thrones Star In Bawdy Comedy
Award-winning playwright Richard Bean has celebrated huge success with his comedy One Man, Two Guvnors and now he's back with another raucous play.
Comedy The Hypocrite is at The Swan Theatre
The Hypocrite is a co-production between the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and Hull Truck Theatre that was created to be part of this year's Hull's UK City of Culture events.
Starring Game Of Thrones and The Full Monty actor Mark Addy and Caroline Quentin from Jonathan Creek and Blue Murder in the lead roles, it opened at Hull Truck Theatre before moving on to the RSC's Swan Theatre in Stratford upon Avon, where I caught it.
Set in the run up to the Civil War in April 1642, Addy plays Sir John Hotham, a rogueish likeable character who is out for his own ends and caught between being a Royalist for the land and money yet, as an MP, ordered by Parliament to secure the arsenal at Hull and deny entry to King Charles I.
With a Royalist siege outside the Hull city walls and the rebellion of the mob within, we know that there is no happy ending for Sir John, especially as the play starts at the end of the story - with his head being cut off.
Caroline Quentin and Mark Addy are among the cast of The Hypocrite
It's an excitingly unusual opening as the talking head of the recently-executed Sir John appears and recalls how it all happened.
Accompanied by a gritty band of soulful musicians, who have a little of the Ed Sheeran about their style and music, the tale takes the audience back to the pantomime shenanigans of Sir John's household.
For starters, there's the antagonistic, abusive relationship he has with his latest wife, Lady Sarah Hotham - a wonderfully vibrant Caroline Quentin, who has an easy rapport with the crowd that makes her seem as though she's ad-libbing even though it's part of a carefully-crafted comedy script.
Then there are his children, each with their own witty traits. Among them is the childish teenage daughter Frances, played with a carefree abandon by Sarah Middleton, who spends most of her time screaming at receiving messages from love interests or in heartache at being "defriended" from the messaging service.
She even rolls on to the front row of the audience in a screaming frenzy during one of many funny moments in this delightful play.
Hull Truck Theatre have been involved in creating the romp.
Frances and her studious lawyer brother Pierro Neil-Mee are both romantically caught up with the Duke of York, and Prince Rupert of the Rhein, a fine pair of dandies who are in hiding in Hull and, naturally, resort to disguising themselves as women.
This pair - actors Jordan Metcalfe and Rowan Polonski - are the pantomime dames of the show with accents that wouldn't be out of place in 'Allo 'Allo and a natural spark between them.
Add to that a bizarre sideline about a child ghost, an erotic bed that sends everyone wild and a marriage plot involving an over-zealous Puritan and you can understand why the eccentric elements of this play give it a charming silliness.
Along the way, Bean has also thrown in plenty of local puns about Hull and Yorkshire that carry well outside that region along with many tongue in cheek lines bemoaning Shakespeare.
The Hypocrite is a new bawdy comedy from playwright Richard Bean.
Directing the play is Phillip Breen who has form for managing comedy shows as he was behind the RSC's The Merry Wives of Windsor in 2012 and well received The Shoemaker's Holiday in 2014.
He's masterminded a slick production that paces along at speed with plenty of one liners. Before you have stopped laughing from one joke, you are on to the next.
It's an impressive set too with the Beverley Gate recreated for a standoff between Sir John and the King, complete with a moat and the raising of a drawbridge.
Game of Thrones star Mark Addy in The Hypocrite.
This latest creation from Bean is not only a hilarious escapade but, by the finale, you realise that the play has cleverly linked Hull's history with the future of democracy in Britain. For at its heart, this gem of a play is a laugh out loud political satire. It's also another roaring success for Bean.
Swan Theatre, Stratford upon Avon
March 31 - April 29
Running time: 2 hrs 29 mins 20 mins interval
Tickets cost from £10 and are available by calling 01789 403493 or online at the RSC website.