BY JAMES HADDRELL
Artistic and executive director, Greenwich Theatre
Earlier this summer, the prolific writer Anthony Horowitz was named the first ambassador for the newly branded Tramshed in Woolwich (formerly Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre).
Best known for his novels for young adults – including the Alex Rider series of books – Horowitz is now back in the world of theatre as a stage adaptation of his spoof
detective tale The Falcon’s Malteser arrives at the Vaults underneath Waterloo railway station.
In theatre, we are always looking for the show that can appeal to all generations – the next Doctor Who or Harry Potter.
Pantomime does it quite well, though there’s often a lull in attendance when children become teenagers, coming back when they become parents themselves.
The Falcon’s Malteser, produced here by New Old Friends, does it brilliantly.
In brief, the story follows the fortunes of the hapless Diamond Detective Agency, run by dim wannabe Tim (endlessly rescued by his smart teenage brother, Nick).
As they try to understand why a solitary box of Maltesers is so important to the criminal underworld, the duo come across a whole host of larger-than-life characters, find themselves under suspicion by the police and, against all the odds, make their way towards an answer.
The series of Diamond Brothers books by Horowitz are marketed as young adult titles – an important bridging moment for enthusiastic young readers as they make their way towards adult fiction.
However, the brilliant appeal of the stage adaptation is that it offers something joyful, whether you know the books or not.
Those 30- and 40-somethings who read the books as teenagers will revel in being taken back to the stories, teenagers now will enjoy the non-patronising slapstick comedy, and younger audiences will be introduced to the series.
At the same time, older audiences whose reference point is The Maltese Falcon, either in print or on film, will recognise all of Horowitz’s references.
This is as much a riotous spoof for noir lovers as it is a stage version of a teenage
The ‘fat man’, the endless police interrogation of the detectives, the femme fatale who isn’t who she seems – they’re all here, in one form or another.
As Nick, Sian Eleanor Green takes the Humphrey Bogart narrator role, full of all of the plucky intelligence that the saviour of the day requires.
Matt Jopling is the inept Tim, and Fergus Leathem and Samantha Sutherland play everyone else.
It is not an easy task to play such a fast-paced show so accurately, and still give every impression that you’re loving every minute of it, but this excellent cast pull it off.
The show has all of the self-awareness necessary to a good spoof, several moments of suitably silly (but immaculately rehearsed) theatricality, including a full-blown car chase, an innovative set, a series of funny songs, and a daft denouement that makes you cry out for the next episode in their adventures.
Whether the long summer holidays leave you desperate for something to do with the children, or you’re looking for a fun night out at one of London’s more unique venues, look no further.
To book tickets, go to https://www.thevaults.london/the-falcons-malteser