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Humphrey Ker is Dymock Watson: Nazi Smasher!

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

As familiar Edinburgh sketch group The Penny Dreadfuls splits, Spice Girls-like, into a new batch of solo careers, Humphrey Ker makes his debut with a gung-ho, Boys-Own style tale of derring-do apparently inspired by the wartime exploits of his own grandfather.

Not that Dymock Watson: Nazi Smasher! has a particularly tight grip on reality; this is the fantasy-adventure of the most comic-book type, with our dashing hero of the Special Operations Executive single-handedly destroying a strategic dam, with the aid of a beautiful woman, a remarkably perceptive dog called Uncle Trevor and a cover-story that requires him to pose as a cabaret magician.

It is a ripping yarn, with Ker not only playing the titular Boche-basher but bringing to life the full supporting cast of credible caricatures. It’s all expertly executed, with team leader Rex Hammer being a particular delight, a bawdy, no-nonsense shagger who owes more than a nod to Lord Flashheart.

Although the performance is impressive, the real joy is in the gag-heavy script. Although nothing interrupts the exciting pace of the heroics, Ker deploys language with a rare skill, with writing that really zings. There are all manner of delights here, and all used with restraint – devices such as anachronisms or peculiarly meaningless aphorisms that could easily be running jokes in lesser hands are allowed to make their impact, and leave.

There are perfectly offbeat metaphors – ‘his suitcase was heavy… like an Ibsen play’ – and a litany of similarly fresh-minted turns of phrase that are both evocative and funny. The care that has been lavished on this is obvious, and the results impressive in the frequency and fullness of laughs.

It’s too early to start talking newcomer nominations, but I’d be very surprised if this hugely enjoyable slice of hokum didn’t make the list. There, that’s cursed it…

Review date: 11 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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