Review: Charlie and Stan

by | Feb 17, 2023 | Reviews, Featured

Mercury Theatre

What a beautifully delightful performance with barely any words being spoken.

Keeping in line with the subject matter, this physical performance play is based in the era of silent movies, hence why there are no words. It’s loosely based on the early story of when Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel were part of the Fred Karno group of entertainers. Stan was Charlie’s understudy and they all travelled to America to tour the music halls.

There is a rough timeline of events that match history, but it’s more a range of entertaining scenes rather than the factual story, however the story is not the focus. The point is this is a performance that completely captures the spirit of the golden age of silent movies in such a fabulous way.

The whole performance magically encompasses this time as there are no spoken words, it is all physical performance with the classic silent movie piano accompaniment. It’s clever, unique, funny, endearing and emotional.

It’s set on the boat, but not a boat. The set is creative with multiple stage levels and raised platforms for the performances to take place: there were steps to trip and fall down and up, poles to slide, bunk beds, and all kinds to assist in the acrobatics.

There are scenes depicting Charlie’s Victorian childhood and we get a sense of how tough it must have been, plus his father was an abusive alcoholic. Although performed with compassion this is still a comedy and the actor depicting being drunk around the stage was hilarious. His drunken speech was very funny.

Charlie had a nightmare scene where he dreamt of killing Stan and the farce which ensured of him trying to carry the body through the boat and over the side kept everyone in stitches. The performance acting, as well as their acrobatic skills from the cast was exceptional.

As well as the slapstick, farcical entertainment, the use of instruments were key, we will get to the piano in a moment, but there was also a drum kit on stage which was used in such different ways to enhance the scenes. Clever playing by Nick Haverson, who also played all the other male characters that were nor Charlie or Stan. The piano playing from Sara Alexander was superb, exactly what you would expect from a silent movie soundtrack, it was wonderful to experience how the piano added so much emotion and levels of tension to the performance. Sara also played the female characters.

There was almost an interval, although the curtain came down and a few of us started shifting to move, the actors carried on with the show up front and within the auditorium.

There was also audience participation, whether it was to play the piano, dance, or just to add to the laughter, it was very engaging.

Main Cast

Charlie Chaplin – Danielle Bird

Stan Laurel – Jerone Marsh-Reid

Listings at The Mercury, Colchester


  • Hayley Clapperton

    Hayley is a business co-owner working too many hours so it's a good job she's passionate about it. Hayley's down time is music, music and music of all types and she enjoys going to gigs, listening to new bands and breathing in the energy it creates.

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