The Barber of Shavingham by Rob Castell and Tom Sadler

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Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 24 December 2012
A comic tale, recorded live at the BBC Radio Theatre, from the a cappella group Barbershopera. Esteve Johnson (Rob Castell), a Spanish matador with an accent strongly reminiscent of Andrew Sachs' Manuel in Fawlty Towers, arrives in the seaside town of Shavingham in East Anglia, to claim his inheritance after his father, a barber, has died suddenly.  At first he is horrified at the idea of sacrificing his profession for something so mundane as shaving; but as the story progresses, he gradually acquires a penchant for shaving (shades of Sweeney Todd without the murders), tries to woo local town crier Vicky Barnet (Lara Stubbs), and becomes involved in an unfriendly rivalry with local barber Trevor Sorbet (Tom Sadler). The subject is ripe for high drama; here it is treated in comic fashion.
The five-strong cast have wonderful voices and a keen sense of the absurd.  However I have to admit that by the end of the production I had become rather tired of its Carry On-style humour. Maybe I'm being a bit of a party pooper, but there is a limit to the amount of mileage that can be extracted from jokes about privies, bottoms and bodily functions.  The cast delivered their lines at the tops of their voices (reminiscent of old-fashioned melodramas); I'd have welcomed a little more aural lightr and shade.
Nonetheless I do believe that Barbershopera are an exceptionally talented outfit, and deserve all the plaudits and/or awards they have hitherto received, and will continue to receive in the future.