The Strange Tale proves strange indeed - Chichester Festival Theatre

The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel
The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel

REVIEW: The Strange Tale Of Charlie Chaplin And Stan Laurel, created by Told by an Idiot, Minerva Theatre, Chichester, until January 25.

Amalia Vitale is incredibly watchable, remarkably expressive as Charlie Chaplin in Told by an Idiot’s take on the transatlantic crossing he not-so-famously shared with Stan Laurel.

Not a pairing you’d put together, and that’s the premise – and supposedly the fascination.

Vitale delivers a masterclass in mime, slapstick and clowning. She does so with immense skill.

The trouble for the show, however, is that there soon comes a point where admiring the artistry probably isn’t quite enough.

It’s not long before we’re seeming somewhat becalmed mid-Atlantic.

At times it’s hard to follow what’s happening; harder still to believe that there is anything much happening at all.

Which is a shame. The ideas are clever; and the delivery is excellent. It’s just the thinness of the storyline which threatens to sink it. You can enjoy the routines, and let’s stress again, Vitale is superb.

But we need to be going somewhere. And we are not.

The trouble perhaps is the format. An hour and a half straight through is indulgent; an hour would have been better; a half-hour would have condensed and liberated. The silent-movie format is certainly overstretched here. Less would definitely have been more.

In the end, the most enduring pleasure comes from Sara Alexander as the pianist delivering Chichester-born Zoe Rahman’s excellent score with astonishing fluency whatever else is happening around her.

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