Secret agent yarn is Alex’s cup of tea

By Mike Wade   |   Entertainment reporter   |
Tuesday 21st June 2022 4:00 pm
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Toby and Lisa Smith star in the Service Players version of 'Dick Barton Special Agent'

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An affectionate spoof play, based on the adventures of the original secret agent spy, will hit the stage next week.

‘Dick Barton: Special Agent’, produced and hosted by the local theatre group, the Service Players, will open at the Gaiety Theatre from Thursday, June 23 to Saturday June 25, from 7.30pm each night.

Poking gentle and affectionate fun at the overly-dramatic vintage BBC radio play of the late 1940s, ‘Dick Barton: Special Agent’ is a spoof detective play that plays out in a similar style to a live radio show and sends up the idea of the shadowy, trench coat and trilby-wearing spy as he foils one dastardly attempt to destroy the world after another.

Dick Barton is described as the ‘quintessentially English secret agent, battling against the forces of evil’. He comes up against Baron Scarheart, who is attempting to take over Britain by contaminating its tea supply.

Toby Smith, more used to playing the villain in recent Service Players productions, plays the titular hero, with Geoff Pugh playing the evil Baron.

They are joined by a cast of well-known local actors including Howard Caine as Sir Stanley, Chris Caine as the Colonel, Sarah Radcliffe as Lady Laxington and Lisa Smith as the exotic European double agent Marta Heartburn.

They are joined by other members of the cast, both new and old, with young Service Players newcomers Amy Goring, Rosie Gallagher and Meredith Creighton joining Carole Bairstow as she celebrates 50 years with the dramatic society.

The play itself was written as a spoof of the detective series by Phil Willmott, in 1998.

Already, it should be clear that not everything is being taken too seriously in this play and, at the hands of director Alex Brindley, every line of the play is packed with eye-watering and watershed-bothering double entendres and risque jokes.

‘This play has it all: Puns, physical gags, songs and a wonderful array of hilarious characters,’ said Alex.

‘It is a little different to do a show like this, based on a radio play, as the Service Players have, over the past couple of years, performed stage versions of popular comedy TV shows, like ‘Blackadder’, ‘Allo Allo’, ‘Dad’s Army’ and ‘Fawlty Towers’.

‘However, I think I’ve run out of suitable sitcoms to put on the stage, so I thought a radio play would be just as much fun.

‘We’ve enjoyed hamming up to whole idea of a radio series, with a voice over telling the audience to “tune in next week to see if Dick Barton saves the day”, things like that.

‘As always, it’s a huge pleasure to work with the Service Players. We’ve had great fun rehearsing for this show and I know it’s going to be a fantastic night out at the Gaiety Theatre.’

Tickets are £17 for adults, and £12 for under 16s and adults, available from the Welcome Centre and the Villa Gaiety box office, on 600555, and online from villagiety.com.

Due to the nature of some of the jokes, the play may not be suitable for under 10s.

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