Blackadder Goes Forth
By Richard Curtis & Ben Elton
2 - 7 July, 2018
The Western Front, 1917. Captain Blackadder joined the British Army when it was little more than a travel agency for gentlemen with an abnormally high sex drive. Now he's twenty yards from a lot of heavily armed people who want to kill him. Worse still, his brother officer is a man whose family brain cell is gathering dust in a pawn shop in Dunstable, and Baldrick is in charge of cooking.
I must admit I found the thought of directing Blackadder rather daunting. It is never easy to put a sitcom on stage as I realised when I directed Fawlty Towers (was it four years ago)? Firstly, successful sitcoms are so iconic, and a few have become National Treasures. No more so than with Blackadder. A proportion of our audience may not even be regulars to BLT and may only have come because of their love for the show. Most people will have very clear ideas about the characters, played so wonderfully by the television cast. Many may know the lines almost as well as the cast and will be very critical if we donít live up to their expectations. Secondly, on TV the action can switch from one scene to another in an instant. In one scene players will be in the dugout, the next in Melchetts HQ and then, in an instant, being shelled in No Manís Land. Obviously, we canít achieve that and there are many scene changes and many settings. And thirdly a TV production allows for lavish, big sets giving the actors plenty of room to portray themselves. We have the one, relatively small space, that has to house at least eight scenes.
So, the reasons for me feeling daunted were, I think, rather justified. The one big saving grace, as always, is the wonderful team I have working on the show. A cast of brilliant actors, most of whom I have had the pleasure of working with before. Maybe a tad mature to be fighting in the trenches but all excellent. I said from the off that I didnít expect them to give perfect impressions of the original cast, but they should try to achieve the heart of the characters. I hope that you will agree with me that they have. And, to the backstage crew. Again, most of whom have been involved with me in plays before. The technical requirements for this production from the set design, lighting, FX, stage management, wardrobes and props are all extremely demanding but the team have responded magnificently to the challenge as usual.
So, I hope you all enjoy our version of Blackadder Goes Forth and you leave the theatre with a smile on your lips.
Finally, amongst all the fun, frolics and silliness let us not forget all those who stood in those awful trenches 100 years ago facing the very real chance of a horrible death, carrying out the orders of the largely unscathed and incompetent elite.