In its theatrical debut, The IT Crowd largely hits the mark as it channels the spirit of the original television series and allows its actors to demonstrate their comedic potential in already well-established roles, but it falls flat in some areas. Great fun for a first-time viewer, but sometimes the enjoyment of familiarity isn’t enough for an audience member who has seen and heard the jokes before.
In paying homage to the original the show excelled, it brought the quick wit, atmosphere and tone of the original. The set was an admirable replica of the tv series, mirroring the nerdiness of Moss and Roy and lack of care for what people thought of it, which they both exuded throughout the show. The use of the music throughout is similarly peppy and upbeat, with scene changes and blackouts being utilised effectively for comedic purposes in place of the editor’s cuts. It did however, feel at times as if the scenes cut out before the joke was fully understood.
Alex Marshall’s Moss and John Duffet’s Reynholm were similar to the tv series in that both of their performances were the standouts of the production. Alex Marshall’s comedic timing was impeccable, peaking especially at the “Because she’s dead” segment of the show. Although his performance was emulative and comparable to Richard Ayoade’s, which it would be impossible not to compare to, he still managed to make it his own and not just an impression. John Duffeta also managed to capture the amusement of the audience immediately in the opening of Episode One with his loud, abrasive Reynholm and his appearances were unfortunately sparse after that, but he was always the highlight when he was on stage.
In the beginning it felt as if Matt Redmond’s Roy fell into the trap of imitating the original actor, his performance seeming almost a copycat of Chris O’Dowd’s. He did grow into the role over the course of the show however and it gradually felt as if the audience was beginning to react to him rather than just the material. He especially shone in his exasperated role in Episode Four. Similarly Lizzie Strahan’s Ren became more easily established and separated from the original performance by Katherine Parkinson as the show progressed. It should be remembered though that these characters are so well-known that it would be hard not to compare, and again they captured the spirit of the original incredibly well.
Director Max Lindon did a thoroughly good job in transferring the tv series to the stage and it works really well as a format, if at times it was felt there was more break time than actual show time. In places though it really did feel like a replication and as if there was nothing much of originality to offer to the audience This is from the perspective of someone who is a fan of the show though and it was enjoyable to the extent of revisiting the jokes that made us laugh when we watched in the first place. For an IT Crowd newbie however, it offers a glimpse of the iconic characters in the exact spirit they were given to us initially and the humour which makes The IT Crowd so iconic, making for an easily enjoyable evening.
The IT Crowd is on at 7.30pm 8-9th June at The Assembly Rooms Theatre.