Wild Oats – Review

Shattered Windscreen Theatre Company
reviewed by Jenni Balow

Yee Hah! This show is as slick as the sharpshooters in the Last Chance Saloon in this whacky, whip-cracking comedy set in the Wild West.

Wild Oats by James McLure is kinda corny, but you’ll be shakin’ your sides all the way during this hilarious show by the Shattered Windscreen Theatre Company from Hertfordshire. It’s a great big production for fun-loving holidaymakers.

Quite astonishingly, the plot originated with a Dublin born playwright John O’Keefe in the 18th century, who set it in the demure surroundings of an English country house. McLure more than turned it around, by moving it to the saloons and prairies of the Old West in the 1880’s – with Shakespearean quotes thrown in for good measure for measure.
The tale borrows from the Bard too, with mistaken identities, reunions, much kissing and touching love interest, and a villain to boo. And you will, because this wildly funny cast will demand that you do.

But it’s the five star quality of the creative and technical team that ensure that no cue is missed and there are tricks galore during the fast-moving action that just gets better and better, directed by Jan Palmer Sayer and Sean Williams, with stage managers Derek Palmer, Brenda Onyon and Juliet Harper.

Line dancing scene changers step out to all the cowboy songs of yesteryear, from The Black Hills of Dakota to the Trail of the Lonesome Pine, and they even move a railroad line!

There’s a barber shop ‘quartet’ and songs from a banjo, guitar and washboard combo, headed by Rachel Dawson, who also shows how to caress an illuminated phallic cactus, while brilliantly playing the abandoned Amelia.

Speaking of cacti, they come in all forms, so look out for the tequila spout, the cuckoo and the railway signal, along with an unbearable chase by a grizzly and a show stopping smokey locomotive devised by Steve Onyon and his set team.

Ratidzo Masunda as Kate is the shiniest in a starry cast that includes Des Turner, Mel Powell, Pete Dawson, Michael Keir, Danny Swanson, Chris and Harry Janes, Paul Morton, James Harper, Chris Gill, Orla Harper, Jack Wood, James Harper, Nick Jackson, Gavin Palmer, Jo Manser and Emily Burnham . . . all of whom deserve a mention.

There is so much more, just git on down to the Last Chance Saloon.