"Blackadder (Returns)" - by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis - Cannon Theatre (Devens, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: The CAST of "BLACKADDER (RETURNS)" by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis now playing at Cannon Theatre in Devens, MA. through April 7, 2024. Photo Credit: Shawn Cannon)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“It's the most pointless book since 'How to Learn French' was translated into French.”

                 - ("Blackadder") / Ben Elton and Richard Curtis


The Cannon Theatre

Presents Ben Elton and Richard Curtis' 


Written by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis

Directed by Aydan Bahe

Produced by Shawn Cannon

Stage Managing by Deb Boles

Cast Includes: Jerry McMahon as "Blackadder,"  Matt Foster as "Baldrick," Andrew Harrington as "Percy/Prince George/George," Simon Jensen-Fellows as "Melchett/Dr. Johnson/General Melchett," Meredith Jones as "Queen/Ms. Miggins," Maren Caulfield as "Nursery/Byron/Robinson," Ben Martin as "Sir Walter/Coleridge/Captain Darling," Kendra Sweitzer as "Redbeard Rum/Sergeant Jones," Carolyn Mitchell as "Shelley/Tipplewick," Rachel Cieslik as "Background/Perkins," Brian Francis  as "Poet/Background/Fraser."

Additional Creative Team:

Tech Director - Bret Bahe; Sound Design - Aydan Bahe; Lighting Design - Jake Snyder; Costumes, Set Design & Painting - Shawn Cannon; Set Build - Matt Foster and Neil MacIntyre; Back Stage Crew - Madi Crory, Izzy Portante and Kaitlyn Scott; Props - Aydan Bahe, Jerry McMahon and Shawn Cannon; Specialty Woodworking - Matt Foster; Sound Board - Bret Bahe; Lighting Board - Jake Snyder.


March 22, 2024 through April 7, 2024

(Contact Venue for Exact Dates and Times)

THE CANNON THEATRE28 Andrews Parkway, Devens, MA.


For tickets visit www.thecannontheatre.org


Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information. 

The Cannon Theatre in Devens has staged a marvelously cobbled-together homage to the irreverent British comedy series, "BLACKADDER," which is guaranteed to delight even if you are totally unfamiliar with the show.

Under the fine direction of Aydan Bahe, the cast faithfully execute, line by line, laugh by laugh, every comedic element associated with the show.

"BLACKADDER" may not have achieved the same global level of notoriety and admiration as the Monty Python troupe but its "BLACKADDER" fans are no less dedicated, with some able to recite or re-enact complete episodes off the tops of their heads.

That is exactly how "BLACKADDER (RETURNS)" comes across

It feels very much as if some of the actors were completely "off book" for this show very early on in the process, which is a fine compliment to the legacy of the original series, and this cast should absolutely take great pride in that accomplishment.

(Photo: The CAST of "BLACKADDER (RETURNS)" by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis now playing at Cannon Theatre in Devens, MA. through April 7, 2024. Photo Credit: Shawn Cannon)

After a "BLACKADDER" pilot in 1982, the BBC series began in 1983 and starred actor Rowan Atkinson shortly before the actor would gain world wide fame for his “Mr. Bean” character. 

Atkinson co-wrote the first season with Richard Curtis, yet the remainder of the series was co-written by Curtis with Ben Elton.

While there were four seasons (or “series” as how they are referred to in the U.K.) there were only 24 episodes total aired between 1983 and 1989 and three specials (two aired in 1988 and one in 1999). 

Yet the series would run for decades, building a loyal following to this day. 

Each series of episodes had many of the same actors essentially playing the same characters only in different roles and in different time periods, similar to American comedies like “The Three Stooges” shorts or “Marx Brothers” films.   

This stage adaptation follows the same premise, showcasing three episodes from different seasons of the series. 

The main trio in the following staged vignettes are Jerry McMahon as Edmund "BLACKADDER," Matt Foster who appears as "Baldrick," and Andrew Harrington who appears as "Percy,” “Prince George” and “George."  

All three actors are simply exceptional throughout the re-enactment of each of the three "episodes."

(Photo: The CAST of "BLACKADDER (RETURNS)" by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis now playing at Cannon Theatre in Devens, MA. through April 7, 2024. Photo Credit: Shawn Cannon)

From the 1986 BLACKADDER II” series episode, simply entitled  “POTATO,” BLACKADDER tries to avoid all of London whose population is celebrating the return of Sir Walter Raleigh (Ben Martin).  

BLACKADDER is jealous of snooty “Sir Walter” and his public adoration.    

Melchett (Simon Jensen-Fellows) coaxes BLACKADDER to join him at the royal palace as the Queen (Meredith Jones) celebrates Sir Walter

After mocking BLACKADDER in front of the Queen, Sir Walter speaks of the mortal danger risked by sailors who traverse "the sea of certain death." 

A boastful BLACKADDER announces his intent to sail the sea, to which the Queen offers to marry him upon his return.  

Along with Baldrick and Percy, BLACKADDER enlists a legless Captain Redbeard Rum (Kendra Sweitzer) to help him sail the ship. 

As the journey seemingly goes on forever, things go from bad to worse for the travelers who must endure great…and hilarious…hardships along the way.   

(Photo: Andrew Harrington as "Lord Percy Percy" in a scene from "BLACKADDER (RETURNS)" by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis now playing at Cannon Theatre in Devens, MA. through April 7, 2024. Photo Credit: Shawn Cannon)

From the 1987 “BLACKADDER THE THIRD” series episode, “INK AND INCOMPATABILITY” (a pun on Jane Austen novels), Dr. Samuel Johnson (Simon Jensen-Fellows) seeks Prince George's financial backing for his new book called a “Dictionary.” 

For selfish reasons of his own, BLACKADDER attempts to seal the deal for the sale of the book but, alas, Baldrick has used the book to light a fire for the Prince.   

To prevent the author from finding out the loss of the only copy of the Dictionary, BLACKADDER (with the help of – or lack thereof - Baldrick and George) desperately tries to recreate the dictionary.         

In the final installment, “CORPORAL PUNISHMENT” (a pun on military ranks) from the final 1989 series, BLACKADDER GOES FOURTH, BLACKADDER is a World War military Captain facing court-martial and execution by firing squad, for shooting a carrier pigeon.   

After avoiding all messages to advance his troops at the front, a cowardly Captain BLACKADDER shoots (and consumes) a carrier pigeon with the same order. 

Shooting carrier pigeons is a military offense and, under military law, punishable by death. 

When General Melchett (Simon Jensen-Fellows) arrives at the trenches demanding an explanation as to why BLACKADDER's soldiers have not advanced, BLACKADDER's aides, Baldrick and George, unintentionally reveal what BLACKADDER has done.   

Captain Darling (Ben Martin) leads the court-martial proceedings against BLACKADDER where, if he is found guilty, he will face execution by firing squad.   

Before the night of his execution, BLACKADDER is visited by his friendly firing squad, with which he has some hilarious exchanges.

Baldrick and George work to save their friend but will they be on time? Or, more importantly, conscious?

(Photo: Jerry McMahon as Edmund "BLACKADDER," Andrew Harrington as "George" and Matt Foster as "Baldrick" in a scene from "BLACKADDER (RETURNS)" by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis now playing at Cannon Theatre in Devens, MA. through April 7, 2024. Photo Credit: Shawn Cannon)

The performances are all well in keeping with the spirit of the comedy, which is completely fun silliness (or silly fun-ness). 

Notably diverse supporting performances include Simon Jensen-Fellows as the eccentric "Melchett," and erratic "Dr. Johnson;" Meredith Jones as the wacky "Queen" and "Ms. Miggins;" Maren Caulfield as "Nursery," "Byron" and later "Robinson," Kendra Sweitzer as the delightfully bizarre "Redbeard Rum" and (the overly enthusiastic about her job) "Sergeant Jones;" and Ben Martin as consistently smarmy "Sir Walter," "Coleridge" and "Captain Darling."

Moreover, the production elements are spot on, as well, using highly inventive staging, a rotating set, seamless transitions and set re-dressings, and magnificently appropriate costumes for the various time periods. 

"BLACKADDER (RETURNS)" continues in Devens until April 7th, 2024 and, whether you are a fan of the show, a fan of British comedy, or just in need of some silly fun-ness, definitely see this production.

Approximately two hours with two intermissions

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




"BLACKADDER (RETURNS)" is a rolicking romp through British history, finding the funny in every age!   

BLACKADDER and his faithful companion, Baldrick, always seem to get into scrapes as they try to either make money, be famous or just get ahead in their worlds.  

AND it always fails.  

Or does it?   

Hilarious antics always ensue, as this duo have you laughing out loud time and again!   

Created for Rowan Atkinson in the 80's, this show is a must for all that love British humor!

Combining "BLACKADDER" episodes, "Potato," "Ink and Incapability" and "Corporal Punishment" from the amazing series, this hilarious show is fast paced and frenetic! 


THE CANNON THEATRE was founded by Shawn Cannon and Bret Bahe, who shared a dream of creating a community theater – a place for learning, and great plays, a place where people could enjoy the company of others, laugh, and just lose themselves in the joy of artistic expression. Over the years, the theater incorporated, and then became a non-profit organization, managed so that every precious cent made from each production is carefully fed right back into the creation of the next. During the Pandemic of 2020, the theater was forced to close, as their overhead was too high, They began searching for a new space during 2021, and found it in the late summer of 2021.  

THE CANNON THEATRE board, which still includes the theater’s very active and passionate founders, invites you to join us and experience this welcoming community, whether as an audience member, an actor, backstage crew, or even director. We guarantee you will leave feeling satisfied!


28 Andrews Parkway  

Devens, MA