Tom, Dick & Harry ★★★ Alexandra Palace Theatre | Jul 26 - Aug 28, 2022

Tom, Dick and Harry are the names of the escape tunnels dug by the WWII prisoners incarcerated at the Nazi Stalag Luft III. The incredibly daring and ingenious plan hatched by the inmates was previously dramatised and Americanised in the 1963 film "The Great Escape". Its current theatrical treatment seeks to recreate the audacity and adventure of that real life feat, and the Alexandra Palace provides a fine venue. The set is well designed and the projections work extremely well to create the atmosphere and to reflect the amazing planning of the escape. Unfortunately, the script teeters between high drama and 'Dad's Army' broad comedy. Just when one is caught up in the thrill of it all, the illusion is broken by a dubiously humorous comment or a direct address to the audience. The constant breaking of the fourth wall and the well-worn jokes take the audience out of the moment and dissipate the tension. Reminders that we are at a theatrical performance like the "translation device" and the insistence on miming door entrances undermine the story, rather than just trusting the audience to respect certain conventions. For the most part, the characters are without complexity; they are simply stereotypes of the brave and stoic versus the incompetent and ruthless. The production is at its best when it focusses on and celebrates the amazing exploit of the escape itself. The planning and the ingenuity of the plotters is positively breathtaking and the actual breakout is well portrayed. The final outcome of the scheme and the survivors' stories are both touching and inspiring, and the tale of Tom, Dick and Harry is rousing and not-to-be-forgotten history.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Andrew Billington.

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