Jane Bond at the Wolsey

Jane Bond: LipService, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich (until Saturday Oct 27)

Ivan Howlett

Jane Bond: LipService, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich (until Saturday Oct 27)

If there's a problem about doing a spoof James Bond, I suppose it's that, until Daniel Craig, the films lampooned themselves. To have Charles Gray strutting around with a cat under his arm is pretty over the top. To have a parody stage character called Blowdry with a villainous rabbit cuddled similarly, doesn't really take things much further.

No matter. The comedy duo Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding, who've been doing shows on these lines for more than twenty years, are a finely honed act who spend much of the time poking fun at themselves. They send James Bond sky high, - just as they have Charlotte Bronte, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare, and Sherlock Holmes, but much of their humour is directed at themselves. Their creations are extended skits - fast moving, full of stage gags, and plenty of quick change, sleight of hand stuff.


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Throughout they like to step outside the characters they are playing, delighting in their own silly wigs. We know, as they do, that M can't come storming into the outer office because M and the Moneypenny's male equivalent, Cashman, are both played by Sue Ryding.

When Sue Ryding needs to change characters while on stage, she comes out with a consciously Sandy Powell line like “Oh, I've dropped my contact lenses” or “I've got cramp in my leg” and then ducks down behind a desk only to pop back up with a different ill-fitting wig.

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M is now short of cash. Olympic funding for 2012 is responsible for that. So, instead of a Daniel Craig figure, M is employing a working, rather bungling, single mum - Maggie Fox in a black rubber Diana Rigg style catsuit - as her super agent.

The 2012 Olympics are a problem for Blowdry (Sue Ryding again) too. A bad experience in a school PE class makes him want to blow the Games off the face of the earth. This Jane Bond will do her best to foil, helped by acrobat Martin Tucker as her stunt double and gadgetry that which would have done Q proud. In return Jane needs to be on the end of her mobile when her daughter Tallulah rings about her violin lessons.

Nothing done in the movies is deemed impossible on stage, from helicopters to parachutes to underwater diving, speedboats on the Thames, and piranha fish. The audience laps up the jokey, seemingly hand-to-mouth mock staginess. The sillier it is the more they laugh.

Ivan Howlett

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