THE CAPER TRAIL
Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham, Thursday 28th July 2022
This brand-new one act play, a neat little three-hander from Thirsty Theatre is showing as part of this year’s Birmingham Fest. (It’s not all Commonwealth Games, you know).
It’s long past closing time in the museum and Carlton, the security guard, is doing his rounds. Unbeknown to him, a notorious jewel thief has already infiltrated the building, with his sights set on the infamous Dark Ruby which bears a curse (“It sends people fucking mad” – according to Carlton). Add to the mix an escaped convict in his underpants and the stage is set for a knockabout farce with some very funny moments.
As the hapless security man, Jason Adam quickly establishes himself as an audience favourite, while Oliver Jones’s Mason has an assured enough air to make his story of being a new starter testing the security arrangements sound plausible… Apparently, this is Ian Cooper’s acting debut, appearing as the convict in his underpants. He displays superb comic acting and timing – as well as quite a lot of skin! The three cast members play off each other well, lending support when a couple of lines aren’t quite there.
Writer-director Ben Mills-Wood has delivered a taut script, full of laughs, reversals, plot twists, and surprises. Some of the reversals won’t bear close scrutiny, but while the action is flowing, we go along with it, because we’re having fun. There are also some moments where the fourth wall gets cheekily demolished, heightening the artifice of this farcical frolic. As a director, Mills-Wood makes judicious use of freeze-frames and blackouts to depict the cartoonish violence, along with comical sound effects. Stupid characters in clever situations make this show quite a gem.
All-in-all, a fine funny farce, although the comic business could do with tightening up here and there to give the production more polish, and to wring even more laughs out of the action.
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆