As it turned out, Henry Wilkinson’s The Unprofessionals was far from amateurish. I admit I was slightly dubious about the premise – a pair of perky pensioners who get accidentally embroiled in a Mafia plot on their holiday trip to Rome. However, The Unprofessionals more than exceeded expectations.
You’re in for a night of classic comedy, including spy code humour, the odd Harry Potter reference, and puns galore – one such cracker being: “Norman, the sandwiches will go off!” to which the response was, “No, they’re miiiine!” And of course, how could we have a play centred around the ramblings of two jolly geriatrics without jokes about scrabble and photos of the grandchildren. The Italian – and I presume German, though it was a little hard to tell – accents, will tickle your leftist, PC, Cantab antennae, though I enjoyed it all the more for that, and certainly the melodramatic Italians and nasal Americans were a hit with the audience.
However, what really made the play were the performances of Beth Dubow’s Rita Sterling and Henry Wilkinson as her husband Norman. Our hilarious tweed-wearing protagonists will have you wheezing with laughter, but all the while filling you with dread at the golden years that await you, filled with board games and bickering. This comedy duo was the absolute crowning glory of the performance. Hannah Sands also managed just the right combination of comically petulant and intimidating as The Fez (the clue’s in the name) – hers was probably the most difficult role, and she pulled off this gun-wielding menace with a bang. Rebecca Thomas was another highlight, who channelled Eurotrash Bond Girl with ease and style.
There were just a few aspects needed to improve on. On the technical front, the sound and voice-overs were so loud they would have made even Norman and Rita scramble to turn down their hearing aids. With regards to the acting, the performance and cast were undeniably strong, though it was noticeable that the writing got slightly weaker as the play neared the end. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t detract from what was a fantastic beginning and an even better middle.
The Unprofessionals was, all in all, a really top-notch night. So fire up your chairlifts and leave the knitting at home, and come and watch these garrulous grandparents embark on a life of a crime at the ADC.
Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below.
The Unprofessionals is on at the ADC, 11pm, until Saturday. Get your tickets here.