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Review: Frank Sumatra at South Shields Customs House

Charity Begins At Home

Frank Sumatra
South Shields Customs House
9th March 2015 and on tour

Imagine what would happen if your charitable cause suddenly decided to deliver the animal that you used to sponsor to your home. Keith had originally bought his wife, Bev, a sponsorship of an endangered orang-utan. Little did he realise that a few years later the bundle of hairy orange fun would land on their doorstep armed with an iPad that acts like a speak and spell. Any teenager will often have attitude but this simian can also literally swing off the lampshades.

Mike Yeaman, whose writing credits include Lucky Numbers, has written another comedy cracker which frequently had the audience laughing. Presented as a recording of a radio show in which the voices are separated from the sound effects, a number of the laughs come from that partitioning. Indeed the audience’s imaginations are allowed to explore the scene being described in the same way as one would listening to a play on the radio. Director Bev Fox is therefore able to weave a scene of chaos and the pace is not held up for a prop to arrive. It is an interesting delivery which works very well.  Our sound engineer, Mat Hobbins, finds himself producing many of the sounds that Frank would produce with tight comic timing.

In the centre of the story is a couple that is trying for a baby. Bev, played by Jessica Johnson, is strong willed and enthusiastic. She is not always sympathetic the needs of others such as her elderly kleptomaniac mother.  Her other half Keith is less than enthusiastic about his lot, worrying more about the contents of the bin than trying to conceive a new child. Pip Chamberlin is engaging as the bloke for whom quickly changing circumstances are taking things beyond his control.  His cynicism is typified by his outburst “I don’t want to be oppressed by simian overlords!” Much humour is gained by the banter that often goes on in relationships behind closed doors.

The short play is a real gem that frequently made the audience laugh. It might answer questions such as whether an alpha male can drive a Fiat Punto or if an orangutan can be mistaken for Mick Hucknell? The radio play format adds to the humour and the actors did a fine job presenting the pandemonium of an teenage bundle of joy who refuses to tow the line.

Frank Sumatra is a wonderful comedy riot highlighting the discord in relationships.

Frank Sumatra was commissioned by Queens Hall Hexham.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Cast: Jessica Johnson, Mat Hobbins, Pip Chamberlin. 

Directed by Bev Fox.

Remaining Tour Dates:
12/13 Newcastle Alphabetti Theatre Venue website link
14 Bedlington Community Centre Venue website link

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