Theatre N16 9 – 18 May. Reviewed by Claire Roderick
Frank Sumatra is basically Paddington Bear on steroids. Just imagine a kleptomaniac, chain smoking, web surfing, beer swilling Paddington, transformed into a 14 stone orang-utan.
Bev ( Hannah Walker) and Keith (Pip Chamberlain) are a nice middle class Geordie couple who are trying for a baby. This is put on hold when Frank suddenly appears on their doorstep. They realise that he is the cute baby orang-utan they sponsored years ago, who has come to live with them (he has google maps on his iPad – don’t ask) because his home has been burned down by loggers.
Bev and Keith take him in and soon find themselves suffering through all the worst parts of parenthood – coping with an orang-utan who at first acts like a stroppy toddler, and soon develops into a terrifyingly unmanageable teenage nightmare.
Performed as a live radio show, with Dean Logan as the hapless sound effects guy, and Frank, Mike Yeaman’s sharp script is full of absurd situations, Sinatra and laugh out loud moments. Chamberlain and Walker are fantastic as the unlucky couple, and Logan’s facial expressions as he produces the effects are wonderful. His Speak And Spell voice is quite possibly the most annoying sound on the planet, and makes Chamberlain’s frustrations even funnier.
Playing as part of Wandsworth Fringe Festival, Frank Sumatra is a play well worth seeing – even if you’ll only give one of those adopt a baby animal gifts to your worst enemies from now on.