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Theatre Review: The Bakewell Bake Off - Landor Theatre ✭✭✭

The Bakewell Bake Off 
Landor Theatre 
Review by Emma Curry

Thursday 10th October 2013: Since the Great British Bake Off sifted, stirred, and whisked its way onto our screens in 2010, there’s been a huge surge of interest in the art of cakery. Inspired by this current patriotic penchant for tarts, buns, muffins, and biscuits, The Bakewell Bake Off (currently playing at the Landor Theatre in Clapham) combines cookery with a few musical touches to produce a show that’s light, fluffy, and luckily lacking the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’ we’ve all come to fear.

The show focuses on the annual baking competition of Bakewell, a small town populated by some particularly larger-than-life characters. This year, the stakes are particularly high, as the competition will decide on the best recipe for the legendary Bakewell Tart. Will it be the iced version made popular by Mr Kipling? The pudding? The almond-topped version? You’ll have to come and watch to find out!

Proceedings are held together by our host, the appropriately-named Victoria Sponge, who was brilliantly performed by Alexandra SpaldingHer interactions with the audience were very entertaining, particularly in the second half when the level of audience participation in proceedings increased, and she made the most of every ‘soggy bottom’-style double entendre in the script. There was a great mixture of colourful characters taking part in the competition too, from Maura Matlak’s sweet-natured Holly Berry (a girl obsessed with Christmas), to Tom Beynon’s truly hilarious turn as Henrietta Apfelstrudel, a German transvestite. Emily Jeffreys was also great as cheery judge Susie Sunflower.

The cast are all graduates of the Guildford School of Acting, and have written the songs and script themselves, which is, quite frankly, pretty amazing. At times, however, their relative inexperience became clear: whilst it was great to have such a colourful cast with such different personalities, at times I felt the sheer amount of characters swamped the story. By the time they’d all been introduced it was pretty much time for the interval, and in the second half this overcrowdedness began to show through even more clearly, when many of them were jettisoned to the side of the stage to watch. I felt some of the jokes and stereotypes were a little heavy-handed as well: particularly the plot with Indian doctor Pradeepta Smith (Kayleigh Thadani), overlooked by one of the judges for not being ‘British’ enough, which I thought jarred rather awkwardly with the cartoonish, sugary-sweet nature of the rest of the story.

Nevertheless, this is a fun show with a real soft centre, and a must for fans of the BBC show. The cast are all incredibly talented, and will no doubt be ones to watch in the future. And, without giving too much away, real cake is involved in proceedings!

Three stars ✭✭✭

LISTINGS DETAILS
TUESDAY 8 – SATURDAY 26 OCTOBER 2013
THE LANDOR THEATRE
Performances:
Tuesday – Thursday and Saturday at 7.30pm
Friday at 7.00pm
Saturday and Sunday at 3pm
Tickets: £18
Box Office: 020 7737 7276 | www.landortheatre.co.uk

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