The Blade of Zorro – VAMOS festival goes Mexican

Man of mystery..

As part of the VAMOS! festival in Newcastle, celebrating all things Latin, the Radio Revellers took to the stage at the Summerhill Bowling Club on Sunday night. A troupe of talented local strolling players transported us into the world of the radio plays of the BBC in the 1930’s and acted out the swashbuckling story of the flashing blade of Zorro.

The Radio Revellers take classic adventure stories to perform in the style of 1930s radio plays. The audiences get to see behind the scenes of  a group of  hammy actors performing scripts peppered with errors. They try to recreate the style of the period from the costumes to the props to get an authentic retro feel.


LIVE broadcast!

All sounds effects were provided by the cast with a motley assortment of items and over-the-top pastiche providing much the comedy. Cod Mexican accents were the order of the day. Audience participation was also required and we gasped, cheered or laughed at appropriate moments as a live studio audience is required to do in these circumstances. There were lots of fun sound effects and most of the slapstick jokiness was derived from this. Horses hooves were coconuts (naturally) and the sword fights were conducted with a fish slice and a large screwdriver.

Special effects ‘R’ us

The story is a somewhat convoluted affair which seemed to involve a number of suitors vying for the hand of Lolita Polita, daughter of Donna Carolina and involving lots of larger than life characters in dramatic situations, including the evil cad Captain ‘Smeeth’. The story is essentially the same as the Scarlet Pimpernel with the mild mannered weak chested Don Diego turning out to be the dashing Zorro underneath his mysterious mask. In between the episodes of the story there were radio adverts for LUX soap powder, also performed by the players. The advert break sketches illustrated different messy domestic scenarios being played out which only using LUX would resolve. One involved a small boy spilling some white spirit on himself ‘Mater will go absolutely fizzy!’ he exclaims – but we all know LUX will sort out those stubborn stains.

Make mine a large one..

The actors had names like Adrian De La Zouche, Vivienne Fox-Elliot and Julian Moncrief – entertainment was an upper crust affair in those days.

A gay cabellero

The venue for our evening’s distraction was as charming and retro as the Revellers themselves.
Summerhill Bowling Club was officially opened on 17 July 1916 as a private members bowling club in the Summerhill area of Newcastle upon Tyne. The leading figure in the establishment of the club was the director of a local iron and steel company, Henry Alfred Lawson. The club had many successful years and was renowned for its welcoming atmosphere along with the quality of its greens. Hard times then hit, and the club closed in March 2011 only to pass its assets on to the Friends of Summerhill to be adapted for community use. Summerhill apparently had many traditions specific to the club. At one time it was customary for the president to pass round a silver snuff box at 9 o’clock in the evening. This tradition did not seem to have survived to 2014 however. Summerhill Bowling Club was visited by some other famous sportsmen throughout its history. Between 1943 and 1957 many famous names from Newcastle United Football Club played bowls on the club’s greens, including Jackie Milburn, Len Shackleton and Roy Bentley. Maybe if you’re good with one ball – you’re good with them all?

Fountain sound effect in action

The mask of Zorro (or XORRO) as they seemed to call it – was an entertainingly frothy,  light hearted affair. Eminently suitable for a June summer evening and a small and very select audience. It felt like we were in some sort of exclusive upper class club, which was also rather a pleasant experience. And very Eccentric England.. VAMOS!

Welcome to the club!