Maybe Dick – Theatre at the Tabard review

Image above: John Hewer in Maybe Dick

Maybe Dick at the Tabard

Review by Simon Thomsett

The Theatre at the Tabard kicked off its new summer season of one-nighters on Sunday with Hambledon Productions’ jolly romp, Maybe Dick, a spirited and occasionally very silly one-man race through the classic story of man versus whale.

Written and performed by John Hewer on a simple but inventive set, the show is essentially a series of jokes, skits, impersonations (a sustained scene with Hewer as Ronnie Corbett is accomplished and strangely nostalgic) and occasional dramatic interludes.

Hewer somehow manages to play all the parts and maintain some narrative coherence along with a stream of jokes and the odd musical interlude the most impressive of which is an elaborate parody of Summer Nights from Grease which ends the first half in style.

Inevitably some parts work better than others but even when there’s a misfire, it doesn’t really matter because another gag is just around the corner.

Oddly, the play is at its strongest when Hewer focuses on the drama, his implacable Captain Ahab stands out, obsessed with the white whale that took his leg and blindly seeking revenge.

The story still grips even when being parodied as here. It never gets too serious however and director Bruce Knight gives Hewer the room to roam the stage and give every impression he is inventing it all as he goes along.

The show relies a lot on audience reaction and the Tabard’s enthusiastic following ensured that he had plenty to feed on. It’s a lot of fun and just right perhaps for post-Sunday lunch entertainment.

Over the coming weeks there is a wide range of one-night shows at the Tabard before it settles back into its regular programme in September with Persuasion.   A full listing is available on their website.