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Cream Tea and Incest review at Hope Theatre, London – ‘charming PG Wodehouse pastiche’

Benjamin Alborough in Cream Tea and Incest at the Hope Theatre, London. Photo: Olivia Rose Deane

Channelling PG Wodehouse and Boy’s Own adventures, Cream Tea and Incest is an eccentric farrago that, like its off-colour title, proves an acquired taste.

Writer Benjamin Alborough is Eddie Spangler, a buffoonish, overgrown schoolboy in a candy-striped boating blazer. Meanwhile, Eoin McAndrew plays bow-tied butler Jeffrey with obsequious aplomb – if not quite exuding the all-knowing aura of the inimitable Jeeves. Together, they set off on an unexpectedly murderous caper involving unrequited love, unclaimed inheritances and an opium plantation in Rhodesia.

The high camp hijinks continue when the duo arrive at the country pile of Lord Wiggins (Aidan Cheng), a spangle-trousered, lovelorn fop who dithers between his Marxist principles and downright avarice. Edward Spence completes the cast as his evil younger brother, as well as a host of other quickfire characters.

Cast of Cream Tea and Incest. Photo: Olivia Rose Deane

While Alborough’s writing captures some Jeeves and Wooster-style absurdity, the humour veers towards the surreal rather than Wodehousian wit, and the preposterous plot has holes large enough to drive a bus through. The cast shows decent comic timing with silly slapstick routines and multiple sight gags, though female characters are almost entirely lacking. It feels as if a few domineering aunts or simpering flappers wouldn’t go amiss.

Olivia Rose Deane and Francesca Leone’s cartoonish, cut-out set is a good match for the show’s comic-book aesthetic, with cardboard props ingeniously deployed throughout.

The cast’s energy rather than the writing propels this show. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a diverting hour’s entertainment.

Verdict
Madcap PG Wodehouse pastiche that, despite the odd misfire, has an idiosyncratic, zany charm

Production

Production
Cream Tea and Incest
Venue
Hope Theatre
City
London
Starts
April 10, 2018
Ends
April 28, 2018
Press night
April 12, 2018
Authors
Benjamin Alborough
Director
Benedict Philipp
Choreographer
Hector Mitchell-Turner
Set
Olivia Rose Deane, Francesca Leone
Lighting
Holly Ellis
Sound
Luke Stavenuiter
Costume
Olivia Rose Deane, Francesca Leone
Stage manager
Benedict Philipp
Cast includes
Benjamin Alborough, Eoin McAndrew, Aidan Cheng, Edward Spence
Producer
Jen Adamson
Running time
1hr