The Doppel Gang, the collective effort of Peter Stone, Jordan Moore and Jake Urry, results in a positive start for their theatre company. With snappy direction and emphasising the large presence of Americanisms, there is potential to propel this production onto a larger stage.
Amongst the many stages of the West End, Tristan Bates is an ‘intimate studio venue with a national reputation for supporting and showcasing outstanding new work and contemporary artists. The theatre is run by the The Actors Centre and offers a year-round programme of workshops and professional opportunities for their students’.
Put together by emerging ‘Just Some Theatre Company’, Doppel Gang is put together by a talented team. Dominic Hedges’ writing is well structured and his debut comedy has toured around the UK presenting a play that, seventy years after the events it centres on, affects people around the globe.
As art forms are threatened nation to nation, or closer to home funding for creativity diminishes, it is the imagination of individuals that allows personal inspiration to persist.
The Doppel Gang takes place in this intimate space bringing to imagination a colourful memory of the past. Emerging artist, as both filmmaker and playwright, Hedges uses comedy to remind us how Britain’s fascination with American comedy came to exist.
Situated around World War II, failing club owner Lombard (Jake Urry) aims to divert the public away from air raids and use his duo act, Tommy (Peter Stone) and Cyril (Jordan Moore), as entertainment. Throw in drag king Rachel (Rachel Hartley) and what he has in play is far from what is required to succeed.
How will Lombard prosper under such a restricted, poverty ridden era?
Performance by performance, failing miserably, the quartet hide underground as people outside flee bombs and destruction. Underground, the conflicted discover trunks of toys, contraband and a script. Cynical yet thrilled, they put good use to their talent, and Marx Brothers’ vision is transformed by their deceit. Maybe or maybe not Winston Churchill will put in an appearance to discover this deceit of ‘Marx Brothers’ in London.
A backstory is essential for an audience to grasp yet The Doppel Gang moves at a slow place resulting in a challenging start. Progressing through this, however, ties in with the conflict each character faces on Lombard’s stage.
As the story kicks in and the Americanisms begin to reveal the success of their endeavour, only then does the play really get going. We have already reached the second half, but with a great surprise The Doppel Gang turns itself around, presenting charm. As we get to discover the potential of each character, the abrupt ending is disappointing, leaving the audiences to assume or forget.
Collectively, Doppel Gang includes a very strong cast delivering each character with a distinct twist. Particularly Urry’s portrayal of the older Cyril proves to overtake the decision not to use an appropriately aged actor.
Each accent tackled is presented with great veracity and Hedges’ script is delivered with much pleasure. Mitchell Reeve’s lighting perseveres throughout, accentuating the stage design as it swiftly moves between stage and dressing room. During the underground scene, the psychedelic music mixed with an euphoric sense either misleads from what is taking place or uses the contraband as an explanation for their behaviour.
Overall this, the collective effort of Stone, Moore and Urry, presents their theatre company in a positive light. With snappy direction, and emphasising the largely presence of Americanisms, there is potential to propel this production onto a larger stage.