Pegasus Theatre - I’m an Aristocrat Get Me Out of Here
6th December 2013 to 5th January 2014.
Review from the British Theatre Guide.
Gonzo Moose’s I’m an Aristocrat Get Me Out of Here is a hilarious swashbuckling romp loosely based on the novel Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy and written by the company.
The enthusiastic opening night audience at Oxford’s Pegasus theatre entered into the spirit of this revolutionary madcap tale with gusto.
It is set in Paris, France with two scaffolding towers designed by Mandy Dike and Ben Rigby providing the backdrop for the palace, dungeons, sewers, a prison cell, Marie Antoinette’s bedroom and an inspired sailing ship complete with a figurehead.
It is an irreverent spoof filled with visual fun from the very start with an actor holding up a storyboard with “Overture” written on it whilst the recorded music plays for ages much to his apparent surprise.
The hero of the story is the mysterious Le Grand Pois who is the leader of the partisans Les Petit Pois who are determined to rescue King Louis XVI from the grips of the revolutionaries who have banned Christmas—a rather tenuous link to the fact it’s a Christmas production.
The three highly talented actors impressively play over twenty vibrant characters with such energy and spirit with lighting fast costume changes and the cast appear to be thoroughly relishing in their various roles with aplomb.
Mark Dawson is splendid as the lisping, wimpish King and, by contrast, he also plays the eccentric artist commissioned to paint the revolutionist De Rein, the vicious head of the evil secret police strongly portrayed by Jonathan Peck who was suitably booed by the audience and he lapped up every minute of their disapproval.
Lauren Silver’s Marie Antoinette, beautifully costumed, is the epitome of the simple, dizzy “Essex girl” with more than a nod to the Carry On films and Barbara Windsor. Her rapport with the audience is tremendous fun. She also plays the accordion musician character Cecile who has become the centre of attention for Jacques who wants to propose marriage to her but is extremely shy.
He involves a member of the audience to practice his proposal to her with hilarious results.
There is a wonderful parody of Les Misérables as the act one finale, all tongue in cheek and performed with sincere ardour.
Abigail Anderson’s assured direction keeps the frenetic pace flowing with flamboyant sword fights, a frantic funny coach ride to Calais that was reminiscent of the Keystone Cops, some clever magic illusions, slapstick and knockabout physical theatre.
Also look out for the Irish peasant singer, the decidedly camp hairdresser, the riotous pole dancers and some classic comic invention that will keep you laughing out loud. As to who Le Grand Pois really is, well you will need to go to find out and it’s quite a surprise.
If you are searching for an alternative to the traditional seasonal pantomime then I’m an Aristocrat Get Me Out of Here is the perfect choice.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Laughing your head off
Losing the revolutionary plot at Pegasus
Gonzo Moose: I'm an Aristocrat, Get Me Out of Here, at Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, until January 5
The Pegasus Theatre's Christmas show, I'm An Aristocrat, Get Me Out of Here is another successful co-production with Gonzo Moose. The production, which toured recently to the Corn Exchange Newbury, is a festive bringer of joy, guaranteed to tickle more than the funnybone.
Gonzo Moose's artistic director, writer and lead actor, Mark Dawson, has taken his inspiration from the antics of the Scarlet Pimpernel during the French Revolution and subverts them in a hilarious spoof.
The clandestine 'Petits Pois' movement is organised by the unknown, Zorro-like Grand Pois. In turn, these counter-revolutionaries are hunted down, arid occasionally comically killed by Robespierre's sadistic police chief, De Rien (Jonathan Peck). A pompous preener, De Rien gets to sing wonderfully portentous numbers in the style of Les Misérables, only to find his moments in the spotlight stolen by the tomfoolery of other characters.
The plot revolves around Le Grand Pois' plan to spring King Louis (Dawson) and his hilariously common wife Marie Antoinette (Lauren Silver) from their prison cells. In one delicious second-half 10-minute spell, Silver had the audience almost crying with laughter as she and Dawson stick their tongues out at each other. The routine is so simple, yet so utterly funny. Silver was only a split end away from corpsing, which only enhanced the bellylaughs from the crowd.
Unforgettable moments include a flashback to a Christmas party where Louis and Marie-Antoinette have their first kiss together while unwrapping their presents, a magical Keystone Cops-style carriage ride across France using only the most simple of props and theatrical imagination, and a pole dancing scene by Dawson and Peck doubling as bored gendarmes.
Mandy Dike and Ben Rigby's inventive set conjures up Parisian sewers, rooftops and a maze of prison cells. The cast clamber over, under and through the pipes and planks in the manner of Errol Flynn playing Robin Hood.
The rapid costume changes are an important feature of the show as is the excellent use of music cues. Director Abigail Anderson once again demonstrates she is among the best directors of comedy. A must-see for the holidays.
There are reviews from The Stage ("the latest in a line of brilliantly realised shows that take a familiar scenario and turn it on its head with a dash of whimsy and a good deal of mischief... on such form, Gonzo Moose will hopefully have many more residencies to come") and Daily Info ("children will love it, and adults will be glad they came... for a festive Christmas treat – go Gonzo Moose!"),