Highlights: Dick Barton Special Agent

Kaos Kabaret - Dick BartonAudiences at Pinder Hall were transported back to the 1940s and the recording of two episodes of the hit radio drama “Dick Barton, Special Agent,” complete with a BBC Radio announcer properly dressed in a DJ! The Pinder Hall audience played an important part in the production, as the studio audience, booing, shouting and hissing as required. The laughter and applause were, however, spontaneous!

A cast of seven were at full stretch, not only playing all the parts but also providing music and songs along the way. For those of us who can remember being part of the audiences of 15 million who regularly listened to Dick Barton at 6.45 p.m. every weekday evening on the “BBC Light Programme”, the shows were a poignant evocation of the original. The “goodies” were all frightfully British and earnest; the “baddies” were unredeemably evil and foreign. In today’s Great Britain many of the values and assumptions of the original scripts now appear very dated and humorous and Kaos Kabaret wisely exploited this. The script was written and directed as a zany comedy. The cast were required to make rapid changes of wigs and accents as they rushed from one part to another, maintaining the frantic pace of the programme’s iconic signature tune, the “Devil’s Gallop” and keeping the audience in fits of laughter.

Not only jumping from one part to another, the cast also played a variety of musical instruments, betraying the Kabaret’s roots in the fabulous Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band of the 1960/70s. The music covered night club “torch” songs through to patriot British melodies, all pulled off with great aplomb.

“Megs” Etherington, the former trumpeter in the Bonzo Dog Band, was an excellent villain and “Biff” Harrison provided the required fragile pomposity as the BBC announcer, in control but never quite in total control, as well as both playing a host of other roles. However, for your reviewer the star attraction was the only girl in the cast, Cookham’s own Barbara “Babs” Christian, who brought great vivacity to her many parts, whether singing, dancing or acting.