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REVIEW The Marx Brothers come to London in The Doppel Gang, Tristan Bates

The Doppel Gang (Tristan Bates Theatre) - Jake Urry, Peter Stone and Rachel Hartley
The Doppel Gang (Tristan Bates Theatre) - Jake Urry, Peter Stone and Rachel Hartley

It is London during the blitz and the city's inhabitants seek the distraction of entertainment but unfortunately not at one theatre. With the audience numbers dwindling and staff leaving for better prospects the theatre is about to go under. But what if they pretend to be the crowd-pulling Marx Brothers? It's a bold plan and some of the company are only convinced by the promise of a decent pay packet, for once. But what else is going on behind the scenes?

The Marx Brothers skit, when we get to it, is really well done and had me grinning but the problem with The Doppel Gang is that the rest of the play doesn't quite match it. The relationship between Peter Stone's mysterious Tommy and Rachel Hartley's Rachel is the main sub plot and yet these characters feel underused at the expense of some mildly funny and often laboured 'life back stage' comedy. As a result what should be the source of mystery and drama, the counter point to the comedy, feels under developed.

There are some laughs but not enough to be a fully fledged comedy and without the fleshed out drama it feels like is an overly long and strangely contrived set up for The Marx Brothers skit.

The Doppel Gang is an hour and forty minutes long with an interval. I'm giving the play two stars plus an extra star for the Marx Brothers scene. It's on at the Tristan Bates Theatre until Feb 11.