Scouts in Bondage

Every sketch show has scenarios which, while amusing in moderate amounts, outstay their welcome. Imagine such a sketch stretched out to the best part of two hours and you have Scouts in Bondage.

Glenn Chandler’s comedy, a sequel to last year’s Boys of the Empire, sees a troop of 1930s Boy Scouts crash land in Afghanistan while on their way to a jamboree. They end up caught in a plot between British intelligence and the local warring factions in one of several satirical swipes at 21st century attitudes to Britain’s involvement in the region.

Narration is provided by Mark Farrelly as the editor of Scout Magazine, whose increasingly anarchic performance is the highlight of the evening. The scouts, though, work on a more one-note level which, although it pastiches the Boys’ Own stylings of the era, quickly begins to grate and actively works against any attempt to portray anything deeper.

On several occasions, the production seems unable to find the line between lampooning the casual racism of the age and just joining in. And while there are good laughs to be had throughout, the overall impression is of a production that got too carried away with the title’s double entendre to tighten up the script as much as needed.

King’s Head, Islington
November 12-January 10, 2010
Author: Glenn Chandler
Director: Terence Barton
Producer: Boys of the Empire Productions
Cast: Brage Bang, Christopher Birks, Mark Farrelly, Christopher Finn, Alastair Mavor, Timothy Welling
Running time: 1hr 50mins

* Reviewed for [The Stage](