On a Scottish Island called 'Buggerer's Top', the Famous Four – and their dog – must pit their wits against the infected 'Rotterz', who are busily eating the rest of the population. Yes, it’s an Enid Blyton / zombie mash-up play.
It stars the titular four: Edwina (Eddie), Dick, Bertie the leader, and his little sister Polly. Scamp the dog is a large stuffed animal, humorously manipulated by an actress who also provides his sounds and facial expressions. An ensemble cast fill out the remaining multiple auxiliary roles.
The play begins with an introduction from the narrator, styled like an episode of 'Listen with Mother'. She introduces the group, and sets a jolly, twee tone – which is mercilessly mocked by the actual action taking place on the stage. Just after the gang are introduced and described as the best of chums, an incensed Bertie's swearing is bleeped out when he discovers that Polly has forgotten to pack ginger beer… and the gang quickly start fighting.
The story is set in the 1940's, and the war is used as an excuse to get the gang away from London and the bombs. They are all sent to stay with Bertie and Polly's Uncle Quentin – a nuclear scientist – in Scotland. A lot of the humour in this section is based around clichés, with the usual haggis and Iron Bru jokes, which does feel a little lazy.
But the narrator provides a great deal of meta humour alongside the exposition; while the cast are busily rearranging the scene, she helpfully informs the audience that this is happening. And when a character dies on stage, they break character and walk off casually, adding to this meta feel and causing much audience laughter.
Enid Blyton books, with their outdated and misogynistic outlook, are certainly ripe for lampooning – but the jokes on occasion do feel a little mean-spirited. However, the gags come so thick and fast that if one misses, you don't have long to wait for the next to land. I saw the last performance of this run and the atmosphere in the audience was slightly manic; this may account for the fact that several of the cast were corpsing badly throughout, which was unfortunately rather distracting.
In general, Rotterz relies on sexual innuendo for a lot of its humour – and while this is funny there is nothing new being done or said. The same is true of the Blyton and zombie references. But the mash-up works well and the performance is, mostly, on the right side of camp. This isn’t a play which will make much lasting impact, but it entertains and amuses for the time it is in on stage.