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No shortage of talent in Reduced Height cast

Reporter: Paul Genty
Date online: 30 April 2014

SEE HOW THEY RUN, Opera House, Manchester, to Saturday

OKAY, this is weird.

You might think reviews of Warwick Davis’s Reduced Height Theatre Company’s first production would either have lots of “short” jokes, or studiously avoid any mention that all the players are candidates for a “Snow White” cast at Christmas. And yes, I mean as dwarfs.

But while you might buy a ticket to see — how can I put it? — something of a curiosity, you quickly get over that and simply appreciate the production for what it is: a bunch of talented, if short, actors literally running through a creaky old farce with as much gusto as they can gather.

And that’s a lot of gusto, especially when drilled as here by director Eric Potts, who knows a thing or two about comedy business and comic flow.

Though the script gets a bit frantic to no great effect in act two, the show otherwise moves at a startlingly fast pace.

Davis himself — shortest of the group by some margin — literally runs through the evening as the vicar of the parish, the Rev Lionel Toop.

The long and the short of it — sorry — is that by the end of the evening the stage is littered with four vicars, a bishop and a German PoW, all implausibly brought together in Philip King’s 1944 comedy to cheer up the troops.

The question of course is whether the experience stands in its own right.

Does Davis’s company of short actors bring anything new, apart from employment outside the panto season?

To an extent it does: not to sound crass, but the diminutive performers bring a higher level of energy to the stage by simple virtue of having to physically work harder to get around it. This makes the company ideal for fast-moving shows such as this.

There is an apparent boost to performance in general — the incredibly hard-working Francesca Mills as servant Ida, running backwards and forwards through doors all night, is a decided case in point.

Apart from that, the answer has to be no. I’m not sure a Reduced Height version of Hamlet would bring much that is new to the art. But I think I’d like to see it anyway...


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