Preview: Porterhouse Blue

Alex Sorgo 31 January 2018

'Welcome to Porterhouse College, Cambridge', a prestigious college that prides itself on having remained exactly the same for the past 500 years, where swan is served in hall, the rowing team champion the Cam, and the traditions of Cambridge life thrive!

However, sudden disaster strikes with the death of the Master who fails to name a successor, leaving it to the Prime Minister who chooses hard-line left-winger Sir Godber Evans (played by Ravi Patel) triggering immediate changes for the antiquated college as he sets out his drastic plans for modernisation. Will his plans succeed? Or will underground fights by the College Council prove successful?

A witty, lively and comic version of Tom Sharpe's novel adapted and directed by Ella Godrey and Simon West, promises to have you splitting your sides as it hits the stage of the ADC from the 6th February! 'Ultimately we want to make our audiences laugh', producer Nick Harrison tells me. As Sharpe's original novel was light, easy to engage with and intentionally very funny, their aim is 'to match that'. Surely a plot involving forbidden love between a research graduate and a bedder, non-functioning condom machines, and exposure of illegalities in scholarly practices promises to do exactly that!

A key moment of such hilarity emerges as the young research graduate, Zipser played by Adam Reeves goes to seek advice from the elderly, deaf and completely-sex-obsessed chaplain and the clash of a shy, repressed student with sex-driven character whose solution to the problems is for Zipser to shout is repressed feelings and emotions to the crowds in a giant megaphone.

'Tom's a fantastic actor and truly brings the comedy alive', says Simon of the chaplain who is played by Tom Nunan. The team behind this rendition have stayed close to the original, remaining true to Sharpe's novel yet also using the opportunity of Cambridge's location to personalise the drama and drive home key themes of the book. As issues of gender, inequality, and academic disregard for student welfare all emerge set in the context of the 70s yet re-enacted in our 21st century, you may be led to question just how much Cambridge has truly changed at all…

'Porterhouse represents the old times where women weren't admitted and were somehow even unnatural yet for us this becomes a core part of the satire by having women play the male roles of authority and conservative figures. And they do a brilliant job of it!' Simon says when I pry into how they have chosen to exploit these issues. The staging of the drama is relatively basic to ensure that the space is left for the actors and the comedy. The focus of the play is the action and its fast-paced narrative which seeks to capture the essence of Cambridge, along with all its oddities, and satirise it to the max!

Guaranteeing giggles yet also offering a deeper questioning of ideals and issues surrounding inequalities, Porterhouse Blue is not to be missed – especially it's promised ending that culminates in three deaths, incrimination on public television, and 2,000 inflated condoms falling from the skies of the stage!

The shows been selling so well they recently added an extra performance, on Saturday afternoon so make sure you buy your tickets now to avoid disappointment!

Porterhouse Blue is on at the ADC and runs from Feb 6-10