Dad’s Army Radio Show hits the Horsham stage

Dad’s Army Radio Show was just about to play Horsham’s Capitol when the first lockdown struck back in March 2020.

Dads Army Radio Show
Dads Army Radio Show

It’s now about to make good on that promise, taking to the stage at the venue on Wednesday, October 13 – two actors, two microphones, more than 25 characters and lots of sound effects.

Delivering it all, as always, are David Benson (Goodnight Sweetheart and One Man, Two Guvnors) and Jack Lane (Wisdom of a Fool and 7 Days).

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Jack, who has worked at the Capitol for 20 years where he is currently duty manager and technician, is delighted to be back on the road.

“We started back out with this in July in London where we kicked off and then there was a little hiatus and then we started back properly in September.

“But this was our first since March 2020. We ended up stopping in Clacton-on-Sea and our next venue was The Capitol. They refunded everyone because that is what all theatres were doing and we lost the whole of the rest of the tour. This tour now is all the postponed and cancelled dates that we should have done.

“It was horrible, just absolutely horrible. It just felt like going into a war. It was some weird world that we found ourselves living in. We all knew that the cloud was hanging over us. We did the show and it was a strange mood, a strange atmosphere. I was sitting in my dressing room thinking what on earth is going to happen to my industry.

“And it has been catastrophic. A huge amount of talent has been lost to the industry, people who just had to leave the business because they had families and they needed to make money to survive. Lots of actors… and it has been a real struggle to get back-stage people, the technicians again. We have lost so many people.

“I am generally a very upbeat person but this has tested me actually much more than anything else I have ever been involved in. We were all shut away in our little hutches for months on end, and I just tried to stay creative but it was difficult because that creative side of your brain just shuts down because you are concentrating on trying to survive and that survival side kicks in instead.

“I was looking after my 90-year-old nan, and I almost became a carer for her. She has struggled, but it was lovely that I was able to spend more time with her, but I have got to say that it was tough. When the staff returned to The Capitol, I said ‘Can I come and help you with the refurb?’ and I spent six weeks to two months working on that with them and it was great to have that connection again.”

And now things are resuming – but that’s not remotely to say that we are out of it, Jack insists: “People are not coming back to shows in anything like the numbers they were. I think some people have got out of the habit of going to the theatre or maybe they are just too scared, some of them. I don’t know which one it is, probably both. But people are reticent about coming back. There are tours being pulled, things not happening. We are just really lucky that it is the two of us, not some great big huge company on the road.”

And they are lucky too that they are offering the perfect show to cheer us all up – an evening of Dad’s Army (three episodes) delivered by Jack and David as radio plays.

They are not acting them out in the strictest sense, but inevitably a great deal of acting comes into it, as Jack says. You have to adopt all the mannerisms to capture the characters – hand on belt and a lot of pointing to capture Corporal Jones, stomach out and slouch to capture Captain Mainwaring.

As Jack says, authenticity has been absolutely central to the whole undertaking: “We have been so faithful to the original presentation. We are fastidious about getting absolutely everything right, trying to dig deeper into the characters and trying to get all their mannerisms.”