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Hong Kong Players' Dick Barton a fast-paced comedy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 April, 2015, 6:18am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 April, 2015, 11:58am

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The Hong Kong Players' latest production of Dick Barton: Special Agent will take local audiences back to post-war Britain, the heyday of classic detective narratives.

"It's a spoof of the popular radio programmes on the BBC in the mid-40s, so we use the elements of escapism to transport audiences back in time with costume and lighting, all put together in a fun and fast-paced show," says director Kath O'Connor.

She and the Hong Kong Players community chose the play after reading a number of others, and decided to go with the one with the best response.

"Everyone who took part enjoyed Dick Barton the most, so we had the theatre booked and got to work," she says.

The energetic plotline by Phil Willmott revolves around a detective captured by arch enemy Baron Scarheart, who, along with the sultry seductress and double agent Marta Heartburn, wish the detective a cruel end. Can our protagonist escape to protect the free world from the forces of darkness?

"There are a lot of jokes in the play," says O'Connor, citing, as an example, a running gag about the British and their love of tea.

The stereotypical roles also allow the actors to lampoon classic character portrayals, she says.

"You've got your typical young and dashing detective, sexy femme fatale, and evil mastermind. There's a lot of laughter in the rehearsals when we work on scenes, so we really know it's working".

Not only is the production hilarious, it's also packed with songs, dances and a bit of cheeky innuendo.

"We've got quite a few musical numbers, but it's not a musical. I'm sure the audience will recognise a few melodies with twisted lyrics - ever heard of Nessun Dorma in the version of stress and trauma? You will," she says.

There’s a lot of laughter during rehearsals, so we really know it’s working
Kath O’Connor, director

Dick Barton is a family-friendly production aimed at a wider audience. "This show definitely has a diverse range - it's fast, slow, humorous and silly, so it's fit for all audiences, not just the expat community," says O'Connor.

"It's pure entertainment and perfect for those who need to wind down at the end of the day, so come to the show, relax and have a good laugh."

Among the cast are a couple of familiar faces on the English-language theatre scene, including Sam Craig and Alex Sommerville, along with new performers such as Maria-Louize Helbo, whose voice, O'Connor says, "is to look out for".

"We started rehearsals at the end of March, and it's such a joy to work with such a dedicated cast."

Dick Barton: Special Agent, May 6-8, 8pm; May 9, 3pm, 8pm. McAulay Studio, HK Arts Centre, 2 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai, HK$260. Inquiries: 9852 2668