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DIRECTOR Jason Fraser’s cunning plan is being realised, with Blackadder Goes Forth (The Play) set to take to the stage next month.

Fraser said he chose to put on a stage version of the hit 1989 BBC television series of the same name for his directorial debut to commemorate Armistice Day.

Repertory Invercargill had previously staged Journey’s End and Once on Chunuk Bair, so this time he wanted to do something lighter to mark the centenary, he said.

Blackadder Goes Forth (The Play) is set on the Western Front during World War 1. The story chronicles Blackadder’s attempts to escape the trenches, most of which fail because of bad fortune, misunderstandings and the general incompetence of his comrades.

“Yes it is a comedy, but it by no means disrespects the sacrifice soldiers made. It is still a salute to them.”

Fraser developed the script, which “mashed together” three episodes from the television series. It had been approved by representatives of the show’s writers, Richard Curtis and Ben Elton.

“It is our take on the television show. If you are expecting Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder you will be disappointed, but if you love the jokes and the story line you would not be disappointed.”

Fraser said there had been much laughter in rehearsals.

“We all love the work and it is so funny. It’s punchline and joke after joke after joke.

“The cast have difficulty keeping a straight face.”

The 17-strong cast features Darren Ludlow as the ever-dry Captain Edmund Blackadder, Craig Waddell as Blackadder’s profoundly stupid sidekick Private S Baldrick and Jeromy Tiatia as Lieutenant George, an idealistic upper class Edwardian twit.

Ludlow said he was a fan of the Blackadder series, so much so that he and wife Lyndal opted to incorporate the theme music to Blackadder into their wedding rather than the traditional Here Comes the Bride

This will be Ludlow’s first show in about nine years.

“It has been a bit of a challenge getting back in the saddle… [but] I worked with Craig for about five or six years on radio, there is a lot of comfort in that.”

Ludlow said he was not striving to imitate Rowan Atkinson, because of the obvious physical differences between them.

“We are not Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie, Tony Robinson or Stephen Fry… [but] we are sympathetic to these characters,” he said.

“We are not a facsimile, but it is a tribute.”

Blackadder Goes Forth (The Play), Repertory House, Invercargill, September 4-8. To book, go to TicketDirect

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