Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bullshot Crummond

by Thomas Connelly

On Friday August 1, I went to the Sorell Memorial Hall to see, Bullshot Crummond, performed by Sorell On Stage. Sorell On Stage is an amateur, regional theatre group.

Who is Bullshot Crummond? Originally a series of best-selling novels by H. C. McNeile, under the pseudonym of Sapper, about a World War One veteran, Captain Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond, "a demobilised officer who found peace dull." From 1920 until his death in 1937 McNeile wrote ten novels about Bulldog, as well as several adaptations for stage and screen. Over twenty Bulldog Drummond movies were produced, making the transition from silent to talkies.

In 1967 for the first of two movies Bulldog was brought back, revamped as a Korean War veteran, and cashing in on the James Bond craze. In 1974 the play Bullshot Crummond was written. This was a nostalgic parody looking back to the long golden afternoon of the sun that never sets. An echo of an echo. This version does not glorify public school bullies like Captain Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond, but rather seeks, like a sapper, to undermine that nationalist, militarist, sexist, point of view.

Parody works well with part time actors who do not have the independence to take months getting into character. Broad stroked, stock characters; the adventurer, femme fatale, distressed damsel, villainous Germans, are there to be indulged. This allows for a natural, absurdist, humour to prevail. The SOS troupe seems to enjoy not only breaking, but sacking the proscenium. Harking back to a tradition older than Shakespeare, Bullshot allowed the director and the company to let the audience in on the joke, to make the audience part of the action.

  Bullshot Crummond serves up some technical difficulties. The play opens with a plane crash, and includes a car chase. Using scant resources new director Barry Bryan came up with amusing answers to these problems. However; the pacing of the show was a bit hit and miss. In this sort of farcical comedy more snap is required from the cast. Cutting ten or fifteen minutes from the running time, would have greatly increased the comic value.

The next production by Sorell On Stage will be a children's play My Mummy is a Mermaid, by member Michelle Pears. Auditions will be held on August 24 for a production in November. Visit the SOS facebook page for more information.

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