Review: The Landlord’s Arms


If you’re looking for something to chase away the February gloom of summative season, stop right here. A thoroughly entertaining, if slightly mad performance, The Landlord’s Arms, is a non-stop roller coaster of hilarity from start to finish. The original student written piece is directed expertly by Charles Edward Pipe and has the audience in fits of laughter from the get-go.

The first characters we meet are Johnny (Emily Oliver) and Ronnie (Ben Smart) who bound onto the stage in all their comic glory. With unparalleled energy the audience are introduced to the dynamic duo of terrible gangsters, as we watch them attempt to live up to the villainous lifestyle of extortion, violence and smooth talking. Brilliant performances are given by Oliver and Smart who bounce off each other seamlessly with a pun a minute as they command the stage.

Then we meet paperboy destined to be gangster, Roger (Izzy Cowell) who manages to swindle his way into meeting the big boss of the gang (Jacob Freda) as he finds his way around the criminal underworld. Equipped with some strong language, a bag of crack cocaine and the power to sculpt a gangster, Cowell and Freda give well-executed, engaging performances. Whilst there are points that the performance strays a little too far into silliness – an interesting alcoholic beverage is concocted which Cowell admirably attempts to drink, it’s clear that the cast are having a whale of a time and the audience are laughing along with them.

Light-hearted, quick-witted piece

Simple staging and use of props allow the focus to be on the performers and their wonderfully exaggerated characters, each delivering goofy and charming performances throughout. Gags aplenty, there are some corny jokes peppered throughout the otherwise witty and sharply clever script that sets the time period as the 60s but manages to slip in the classic Brexit references just for good measure. For the most part, the lighting is simple and well executed, but some pauses in the dimming of the lights stretch out the humour a little too far, tending vaguely towards awkwardness in one or two scenes.

Brief employment of physical theatre seeks to add to the descent into carnage of the performance, with the whole cast joining in the melee onstage much to the audience’s delight. This light-hearted, quick-witted piece will immerse you in the lives of the gangsters and all their bumbling shenanigans with full force.

There’s a loose plot to follow, but this play doesn’t feel like it’s too bothered about a story-line, with scenes ranging from robbing a pub (you’ve guessed it, the Landlord’s Arms) to meeting the parents for the first time, the audience settle into the play immediately and let it take them wherever it wants to. And what a journey that is. Altogether the performers create a buzz in the Assembly Rooms captivating everyone there with their boundless spirit.

Slight slips in character only add to the production, drawing the audience further into the tumult onstage, if anything adding a further dimension to the performance. Credit where credit is due the audience hang on every word and scene with pure enjoyment in this treat of a piece of theatre, and it’s all down to the actors’ captivating performances.

A thoroughly entertaining watch

The slightly odd ending feels a bit forced, but this can be overlooked as really, the audience just don’t want the fun to end. The performers fill the room with their compelling, fun and utterly fantastic acting, so much so that I wanted to watch it all over again immediately after it was over.

A thoroughly entertaining watch, The Landlord’s Arms is deftly written and exceptionally performed by a brilliantly talented cast.

Image: Elvira Parr

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