Romeo and Juliet

Verona is anything but fair in this dark and challenging reimagining of the tale of two young lovers.

The star-crossed pair are there but little else remains in a version of Romeo and Juliet which is very much Matthew Bourne’s and not at all Shakespeare’s.

At a compact 90 minutes (plus slightly jarring interval) much of the Bard’s story has been jettisoned with the warring families, love rival Paris, the Prince, Mantua, and the Apothecary all excised from the action.

Instead we find ourselves confined in some form of mental health institution for the young, where Juliet is already ensconced and Romeo is soon cast away by his uncaring parents.

Romeo and Juliet
Juliet (Cordelia Braithwaite) and Tybalt (Dan Wright)

Their romance blossoms in this unlikely setting – aided by their Cuckoo’s Nest inspired fellow inmates – through a series of wonderful duets from principals Cordelia Braithwaite and Paris Fitzpatrick.

Bourne has always been skilled at seductive shapes and selecting performers who act as much as dance. There are none of the rictus smiles and fixed stares of classic ballet here: these two lovers have eyes (and lips) only for each other. They sensuously combine, with one delicious passage seeing them inverted on the floor but mouths locked and rolling across the stage. When they finally break and stand panting, gazing longingly at each other, it feels intensely real.

The corps have plenty of chance to get physical too, with the ball scene starting as a formal party but descending into a frenzied orgy when the guards aren’t looking; there are skirts hitched up and no lack of writhing. Mercutio (Danny Collins) has a same-gender hook up that becomes the spark for his dispute with Tybalt (Dan Wright), triggering the inevitable descent from simmering unease to bloody tragedy.

As that darkness descended I swear there was a hiss and movement straight from Bourne’s muscular Swan Lake as the inmates formed a brutal mob, with the rapidly following conclusion just as bloody and shocking as that now iconic production’s.

The plot is distinct and different from the traditional play, but it has a power of its own. There is a question of how far you can travel from the original and honestly claim the name – Bourne’s reworking makes West Side Story look like a by-the-book RSC production – but in its own right this is an immensely creative and affecting tale.

Romeo and Juliet

Lez Brotherston’s set is centred on a curved tiled wall, with twin prison grills on either side for boys and girls, and a raised walkway around the top that allows for a balcony scene of sorts. Beds wheel in and out and there is a brief bit of Baz Luhrmann sparkle when a glitter ball descends, but the emphasis is on stark simplicity.

Prokofiev’s score is rejigged with an emphasis on and reprises of Dance of the Knights, through a new orchestration by Terry Davies reduced down to 15 parts and performed live under Dan Jackson’s direction.

Each of the runs of Romeo and Juliet includes temporary corps members drawn from local dancers aged 16 to 19 (Joe Barbrook, Chandi Brading, Freya Brown, Isis Clunie, Amonik Melaco, Jack Richardson), and perhaps the greatest compliment is that you could only identify them on the curtain call – for the rest of the show they slotted seamlessly into the cast.

Romeo and Juliet is at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday, September 7. Cinema screenings take place across the country from October 22.

Seasoned Professionals / White Girls

This double-bill of new shows from Norwich-based theatre company Laughing Mirror could not have been more contrasting.

Two-hander White Girls is a punchy and engaging piece that deftly explores our attitudes to migration and charity, framed through the experiences of two naïve young women who volunteer to help at the infamous Calais Jungle back in 2016.

Told with minimal props and staging, Frankie Bloor and Valerie Smith play both the main protagonists and the string of secondary characters in writer and director Madelaine Accalia’s challenging tale. Smith’s expressive face conveys both the giddy joy and tortured lows of their adventure, with Bloor strong on accents and physicality.

White Girls
White Girls

The piece carefully balances comedy with a serious message, keeping you rapt throughout the one hour run.

Seasoned Professionals is the best type of mindless fluff, an enjoyably silly tale about the panicked reaction of the Department of Seasonal Mascots when austerity bites and an inspector is sent in to chop a festival from the calendar – cue daft jokes, slapstick adventure, and a sprinkling of comic songs.

Harrison Cole is deliciously over the top as a drunken Santa and flamboyant Guy Fawkes; Jessica Cuthbert provides the backbone as both the inspector and a divorcing Mrs Claus; and Harry Benjamin delivers several flawless falls as the ever-fainting Easter bunny.

Daniel Hemsley, Katy McEntee, and Ashden Woodrow show their range across a multitude of roles, and Pete Rapp’s vocals and ukulele ensure the musical numbers go off without a hitch.

The script – by James Darby, Chad Porter, and Holly Richards – has a mix of groan-inducing puns and smart theatre in-jokes. A few judicious cuts could help (for example, a plot line involving an intern isn’t worth the payoff) but overall it bounds along at a jaunty pace with plenty of laughs.

Both plays are transferring to the Edinburgh Fringe. White Girls will be at Gilded Balloon Teviot from July 31 to August 26. Seasoned Professionals will be at Surgeon’s Hall from August 2 to 17.

A View From The Bridge

Miller’s classic tragedy of lust and betrayal is given a bold and confident reworking in this stylish Maddermarket production.

The set is stripped back to little more than a square of white flooring, a solitary chair, and a plain backdrop that serves as a screen for shadow plays throughout the action.

The colour is instead provided by lawyer Alfieri, whose narrator role is beefed up with additional dialogue and stage time, roaming through the action as Brooklyn longshoreman Eddie becomes increasingly frustrated at his niece Catherine’s developing relationship with illegal immigrant Rodolfo, to the concern of both Eddie’s wife Bea and Rodolfo’s brother Marco.

Greg Lindsay-Smith rises magnificently to the call as Alfieri, the wise but impotent commentator who, like the audience, can anticipate what is going to happen but can do nothing to prevent it.

As Eddie, Nick Meir is a study of masculine frustration: tense, troubled, terrified of acknowledging his taboo desires. The opening of act two, where he returns worse for alcohol, is brilliantly played: a slight off-balance to his deportment conveys everything we need to know.

Miller is sometimes criticised for the two female parts being underwritten but Panda Monium gives Beatrice plenty of character: a strong woman that guides her niece and stands up to her husband. Similarly Nyree Williams turns in robust and believable Catherine.

Jose Tarouca’s Marco is brooding and dark while Ben Prudence as Rodolfo is contrastingly slight, literally given their physical differences as demanded by Miller’s tale.

Jez Pike’s direction and design takes several liberties with the script. The boldness mostly plays off but the focus on Alfieri dislocates us a little from the meat of the play, and Catherine’s girlish fascination with Eddie is almost entirely excised. The shadow plays sometimes work well – such as suggesting the secretary at Alfieri’s office – but can feel like a conceit in search of a purpose.

On its own terms though this is an immensely powerful and enjoyable production, and a View not to be missed.

Waiting In The Wings

The superficially wispy plot of this Noel Coward play hides a darkly comic and sharp take on ageing and the lives we live.

Set in a retirement home for old actresses, the cast features a number of local performers who haven’t tread the boards for a while, with an estimated total age of over 1000 years – and it was experience, rather than dotage, that showed.

With the core eight residents almost permanently on stage, this is genuinely an ensemble piece but Sue Newstead and Mel Sessions edged into leading roles as a pair of steely old stagehands reigniting an old feud when their retirement brings them back together.

Gill Tichborne’s exclamatory Irish actress is overly melodramatic and a cheap stereotype – which is what makes her performance so enjoyable – and a sharp contrast to June Gentle’s sensitive and devastating portrayal of Alzheimer’s sufferer Myrtle.

This is a bittersweet play, with plenty of laughs and a good deal of pathos. We see the decline of these once-bright stars and feel their disappointment, but we also see their resolve in resetting their expectations and finding new ways to live. When one is offered the chance of a new life away from the home, it is both upsetting and absolutely right that she turns it down.

Cassie Tillett’s direction could do with a little more urgency (as could the scene changes), but it feels shorter that its two and half-hour run. This is a surprisingly powerful piece and a great chance to see some experienced talent back on stage.

Waiting In The Wings continues until July 20, 2019 at the Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

Electrolyte

This show did not have an auspicious start – six performers milling around the stage, sharing in-jokes and nattering away – but appearances can be deceptive.

Led by Olivia Sweeney as narrator Jessie, this mixed troupe of musicians and actors combine fluidly to tell a rambunctious story of love, life, and loss, at blistering pace and with fierce emotion.

Sweeney dominates, striding lankily around the stage all mouthy and boisterous – at least on the surface. Her aggressive Leeds tones are met by the sublime voice of Robyn Sinclair as rising artist Allie; given her exceptional vocals, it’s a role that doesn’t need much acting.

Writer James Meteyard plays a vital and redemptive bit part, alongside Megan Ashley, Ben Simon, and Chris Georgiou, who predominantly work the audio side of the piece with occasional small speaking parts.

It’s a style that has been termed gig theatre, but to label it is to cheapen it: what Electrolyte is, is exceptional storytelling. While sharper audience members may guess the key twists ahead of time, the delight is in Meteyard’s script: an extended poem that despite its dominant rhymes feels entirely unforced in its delivery.

This isn’t tricksy, affected performance poetry, it is skilled and pleasurable writing in a theatrical tradition that goes back to the iambic pentameter and the rhyming couplet. This is a story of youth, pharmaceutical excess, a search for family, and switched perceptions: hardly alien concepts to Shakespeare, who also threw in the odd song – and no one calls him gig theatre.

Donnacadh O’Briain’s direction is disarmingly smart. While there is undoubted tension and drama, in between scenes and at the edges of the action the cast remain extraordinarily warm and informal, playful as genuine friends. We are lulled into the theatrical deceit, making the emotionally wrenching events played out all the more impactful.

This isn’t a show to see for its format or construction though. It’s a show to see because it is exceptionally well written and performed and because like the best theatre, it takes you places you didn’t expect to go.

Bells and Spells

All is not what it seems in this glamorous and enchanting show, that offers a gentle and lulling mix of humour and beauty.

Aurélia Thierrée is the light-fingered lead, gliding through a series of surreal vignettes and compulsively stealing items as she goes: jewels, clothes, table lamps, loofahs – anything she can get her hands on.

She achieves these feats through dexterous sleight of hand and optical illusions: disappearing into thin air to escape a pursuit through a revolving door, repurposing a bejewelled lamp shade to become a tiara, using a closed umbrella as an impromptu net for her bounty.

Thierrée makes instant costume changes before your eyes, slips in and out of tapestries, and transforms a room full of hatstands into a skeletal chimera that she rides off into the flats.

In one scene she becomes part of a painting and her head becomes decapitated, bouncing up and down above her body before that too becomes disconnected from the background, allowing for body swaps with a man and a pug. It is silly, simple, but infectiously fun to watch.

This is deliciously light fare in the main, reminiscent of old school music hall magic that is heavy on clever lighting, physical placements, and limbersome bodies and pleasingly bereft of bombast.

The show is directed by Thierrée’s mother Victoria Thierrée Chaplin and co-stars Jaime Martinez as an occasional love interest stroke mark. His dance and tap provide occasional interludes to the confounding dramatic scenes.

The planning and preparation to pull off such a show – with so many props, so many switches and changes – is a mammoth task. Armando Santin’s choreography is spot on, and Nasser Abdel Hammandi’s lighting is a masterclass in keeping the right things visible and the mechanics just out of sight.

The original French production of the show was called Vols De Nuits – or Night Flights. That is perhaps a more fitting name: it rests on the edge of memory like one of those delightful but half-forgotten dreams, something you can’t quite believe you really saw. A true Festival highlight.

Reverse

The concept of Reverse is simple: walk backwards around the city, getting a new view on Norwich. The outcome is something much more profound.

Perhaps I’m too familiar with the city’s vistas to get much of a surprise from the viewpoints offered on this winding tour around the centre of Norwich. The opening view of St John’s Cathedral from Chapelfield Gardens is a delight, but except from some surprising detours through the innards of The Forum and Norwich Castle there is not much new to see here.

What there is is a revelation as to how your own senses operate. Kitted out with headphones that provide a witty and evocative soundtrack as you traverse the urban landscape, you walk backwards following a white taped line, guided by special symbols showing changes of direction, steps, and other obstacles. There are also, thankfully, strategically-placed volunteers on hand to save you from striding obliviously into oncoming traffic.

The white line itself is oddly liberating. Armed with the knowledge that in the days of lawsuits and health and safety the route must have been though dozens of risk assessments, you quickly become blasé about not seeing where you’re going. Gentleman’s Walk – normally a game of dodgems looking out for pushchairs, proselytisers, and the Puppet Man becomes disconcertingly tranquil: you just trust people will get out of your way. (And, perhaps thanks to you being a weirdo walking backwards wearing headphones, they do just that – alongside a bit of pointing).

You became acutely aware of the slightest incline – Hay Hill never felt so steep – and not just your direction but your perception of spaces becomes reversed. Outdoor spaces, objectively more exposed and threating, feel carefree whereas interiors provoke more nervousness, with their narrow circulation strips and immovable barriers. Somehow the texture of surfaces become more tangible: moving from stone, to wood, to grass, is distinct in a way that normally is barely perceived.

Artist Johannes Bellinkx’s concept looks simple and silly. The experience is anything but.

Boy Blue: Blak Whyte Gray

From the first tentative move of the opening piece to the concluding strut of the third and final dance, it is clear Boy Blue are an exceptionally talented company.

This reprise of their 2017 triptych for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival features eight dancers at the top of their art.

Whyte is a disturbing dystopian vision: two figures branded with a projected barcode, wearing tops resembling straitjackets, and twitching through jerky, awkward movements like possessed action toys or short-circuiting robots. The totality of the performance is entrancing, and that is with one dancer down from the original production’s three marionettes.

Second piece Gray is more energetic, evoking guerrilla warfare. The starkly literal miming of rifle loading and grenade throwing play sits awkwardly with the more lyrical and suggestive choreography of the rest of the piece but the company dazzle with a complex and audacious portrayal of kinship and rivalry.

Blak is the final piece of this triple bill. It is strongest in its earlier movement; the silent interval as a vulnerable central figure struggles to stay upright, shorn of the violent and aggressive soundtrack that successfully punctuates the rest of the evening is perhaps the most startling.

There’s a surfeit of ideas here – red drapes, hanging masks, and dayglo make up feel unnecessary against the purity and strength of the dance – but the technical supremacy and astounding energy of the performers ensures the audience is left in awe, and on its feet.

Faustus

This is the story of a man who wants everything, and is willing to sell his soul to the devil to get it – and it’s a production that has high ambitions too.

Marlowe’s sixteenth century text is there but it has been chopped and changed, and interspersed with video clips, songs, and jokes about iPads.

In the title role Adam Edwards has great tone and presence, descending into a despairing mess as his dreadful destiny becomes all too discernible. John Dane’s Mephistophilis wields an intense and cruel power; tightly wound and viciously bitter.

Giles Conneely has (literal) comedy chops, his expressive face gurning through multiple roles as (a surprisingly tuneful) Lucifer, Robin, and a much-abused Pope. Nina Taylor leads the assorted spirits and supporting characters, switching between a solemn Good Angel and an animalistic, prowling Bad Angel.

Jane Kidan, David White, Diane Webb, and Alex Gale cover a range of characters, including the seven deadly sins.

There is no sloth in this production, but there is a gluttony of ideas. Chris Bealey’s direction and design is bursting with clever concepts, but they are also clashing concepts. The cast can be proud of their performances, but I still left a little covetous of a simpler, stronger, telling of this classic story.

Rough Crossing

Funnier things happen at sea in this frothy and fast comedy from one of our best-regarded living playwrights.

A mid-career Tom Stoppard play it follows the ups and downs of two writers, their composer, and leading couple, as they cruise across the Atlantic to New York for the opening night of their next big show.

The play, though, is in a mess – as are the intertwined love lives of stage darling Natasha (Issy van Randwyck), her fiancé musician Adam (Rob Ostlere) and her old-flame and stage partner Ivor (Simon Dutton).

It’s left to writers Turai (John Partridge) and Gal (Matthew Cottle) to fix the action on and off stage, occasionally helped by ship’s steward Dvornichek (Charlie Stemp).

The script is stamped all over with Stoppard’s trademark wordplay, structural jokes, and physical puns, with the opening scene of deliciously mis-timed responses and misunderstandings setting the tone for the show.

Stemp commands much attention as the amiable crew member, at sea with ship’s practice having faked his CV but more than happy to enjoy a drink or two, but Partridge is the real star. His conniving, charming, and charismatic portrayal of a frustrated playwright hits the mark, and together with Rachel Kavanaugh’s direction he keeps the piece moving at a steady rate of knots.

Cottle is a genial foil to the exploits, with Randwyck, Ostlere and Dutton all turning in solid ensemble performances.

Ben Cracknell’s lighting of Colin Richmond’s compact ship-shape set is subtle and clever, particularly when the vessel hits some choppy waters.

The play’s musical numbers, written with Andre Previn, don’t find themselves in the best berths: the cast’s voices seem a little weak, although Stemp and Partridge partially redeem themselves with an energetic burst of dance towards the end.

This is about the comedy though, and that never falters. Light of foot, quick of mind, and full of laughs, two hours just cruises by. You won’t be needing a life jacket.

Macbeth

With Storm Gareth raging outside, there wasn’t much need for simulated wind and rain to open this oppressive and claustrophobic version of Macbeth, but still it came.

The Paper Cinema presented the Scottish play without words and without live actors – instead the abridged story was shown through Nicholas Rawling’s drawings, live animated by a quarter of puppeteers and backed by a live score.

As well as providing a full musical accompaniment – think Macbeth by Massive Attack, with the occasional Highland jig or prog rock outburst – Chris Reed and Francesca Simmons added sound effects the BBC Radiophonic would have been proud of: footsteps, creaking doors, even the slightly gruesome mopping up of the dead king’s blood.

The artistry and attention to detail here, from Rawling and fellow animators Teele Uustani and Catherine Rock, was breathtaking: handling hundreds of card backdrops and figures, combined and overlaid through multiple cameras, and projected on to a large screen.

Shakespeare’s poetry was missing, as was some of the plot to achieve a 70 minute run, but we still got cackling witches, ambitious Macbeth, the wronged Banquo, and the tragic Lady Macbeth. In short, enough story and definitely enough spectacle to stand independently of the Bard.

Some scenes seemed crowbarred in for the sake of a sound effect (a squeaky crown here, and a running messenger there) and Macbeth’s 60s-style hallucination jarred with the tone of the rest of the production, but given the meticulous craft of this show the creators were entitled to a little fun.

When Macbeth runs through the castle to slay Duncan, the portrayal is as dramatic as gripping as any production I’ve seen; the puppeteers as good as any actors at bringing the page to life.

Orlando

This stunning 90-minute monologue rescues Virginia Woolf’s tale from the stale confines of gender studies and treats it for what it is: a bloody good yarn.

While the 1928 book – with its possibly immortal gender-fluid title character – can undoubtedly be seen as a treatise on sexuality, or doggedly deconstructed through the prism of Woolf’s own biography, to do so narrows it into a cynical cypher in a way seldom contemplated with work by male authors.

Thankfully this touring show, opening at Norwich Playhouse, instead opens up the rich and very funny surrealist narrative and revels in its power to entertain.

And Rebecca Vaughan’s solo stage presence is desperately entertaining and engaging. She machine-guns out writer and director Elton Townend Jones’ adapted script with verve and emotion, and save for a few cutesy theatrical devices and sound effects, with barely a pause to catch her breath.

It envelopes and entrances you, so you barely notice the minimal set is just a box, chair, and mirror draped with sheets. She makes it so much more. You have to work to watch it and keep up, but Vaughan makes you want to.

We live her encounters with Elizabeth I, promiscuous Russian princesses, dulled 18th century wits, and duller Victorian crinoline outfits, with romps that take in city and country, the English capital and Constantinople. We love, lust, and lose.

We bound decades in a few sentences, both in snatches of Woolf’s prose and in Jones’ additions: 20th century conflicts are miserably despatched with a rattle of gunfire and Orlando appearing to have “mislaid a war, or two”. Such is the brutal contrast between a moment lived and the totality of history.

Vaughan and Jones are fantastic storytellers, and so was Woolf. It’s great to be reminded of that.

The Life I Lead

In the afterglow of the recent film sequel to Mary Poppins, this new one-hander play is a gloriously British evening of gentle and poignant comedy.

As David Tomlinson – better known to generations as filmic father Mr Banks – Miles Jupp strikes a perfect note as the quintessential gent: kind, self-effacing, and quietly enduring.

The piece, written by Norwich boy James Kettle, deals playfully with theatre conventions: Jupp sometimes directly addresses the audience, sometimes slips to soliloquy. He could just as easily be staring in his own dream, or possibly post-mortem existence, what with the backdrop of drifting clouds and an emblematic set dominated by a door with a Banks sized-hole cut through the middle, complete with bowler hat.

The narrative is fractured, dotting backwards and forwards in time and gradually piecing together some of Tomlinson’s most joyful memories – working with Julie Andrews, or finally connecting with one of his sons – to darker revelations: his father’s hidden life, and the fate of his first wife.

The deft script is littered with precious moments: “I did have a way of words; it was always something of a handicap” is how Jupp retells his first awkward meeting of Walt Disney, in one of the shows softly startling one liners.

Jupp is in his element, holding forth solo for just under two hours. His physical resemblance to Tomlinson helps, but what captivates the audience is that he shares that same mischievous twinkle: a review of the real man described him as portraying the caperings of the professional idiot, but it’s a phrase that just as easily fits much of Jupp’s career.

He is just as accomplished when switching to the embodiment of Tomlinson’s Napoleon and beef obsessed father, or miming one of the actor’s early stage roles creating a one-man crowd through a series of increasingly unlikely hats.

Selina Cadell’s direction keeps things at a gentle but advancing pace, and Lee Newby’s design is simple and suggestive. Matt Eagland’s lighting feels a bit overactive in places, but it’s the slightest of flaws in an overall accomplished piece, that dazzles with the most delicate of touches.

The 39 Steps

This stupendously silly spy thriller is a delight from start to finish.

Based on the story – but not the style – of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1939 film, itself a loose adaptation of John Buchan’s book, this comic romp turns theatre convention on its head.

Just four actors represent dozens of characters, making frequent in-jokes and playfully messing with what it means to be on stage: we see fake cars with breadstick window wipers, beds constructed out of people, and some very odd escapes through windows.

Everything is played for laughs, particularly by Molly-Rose Treves and Ben Prudence who take on most of the heavy lifting playing policemen, hotel owners, crofters, music hall stars, and even an airplane. Their comic asides to the audience are perfectly timed.

The strikingly tall Harry Benjamin stands out throughout as unwitting hero Richard Hannay, the unassuming chap caught up in a spy ring and having to fight to clear his name of murder. He has the debonair twinkle and sonorous voice of the classic matinee idol; you can’t help rooting for him.

Elea Hepper is a triple love interest, playing a glamorous spy, an innocent Highlander, and a no-nonsense woman of means. She is spot on throughout, but particularly shines as unlucky in love crofter Margaret; her pining tears both comic and strangely moving.

Director Chad Porter and designer James Utting have kept the production tight; it bounces along from gag to gag and the deceptively simple staging strikes the perfect balance between suggestion and functionality. Their planning, and the copious backstage help, is the silent engine that keeps the show running.

Patrick Barlow’s award-winning script is a modern classic, earning it a healthy nine-year West End run. This production by the Maddermarket Players absolutely does it justice.

Diary Of A Nobody

It’s not quite pantomime season, but this pacey and curious production has the warmth, absurdity, and frequent cross-dressing to almost qualify for that dubious label.

What sets it apart from those celeb-draped neon-coloured extravaganzas is that rather than being a tale of magic carpets, magic slippers, or magic beans, this is supposedly a tale of the humdrum. The magic is in the humour.

An adaptation of George Grossmith’s late 19th century satiric novel, it charts 15 months in the life of an ordinary city clerk. The conceit is that Charlie Pooter (portrayed without a single misstep by Trevor Burton) has decided that if someone like Pepys can make people endure his diary, then so can he – and he’s enlisted a troupe of amateur thespians to enact it on stage.

Accompanied on piano throughout by Mr Putley (Selwyn Tillett), he charts the adventures of his household: the excitement of not managing to growing cress and radishes; the joys of enamel paint; the annual holiday to the same small Essex resort. Each entry is a barbed comment on pretention of the aspiring classes, with order frequently tipped asunder by the crashing brashness of Pooter’s hapless but somehow high-achieving son Lupin (Laurence Green).

Green, together with Steven Scase and Paul Ellingford, takes on a slew of characters, changing costume, switching between accents, limps, and hats, as they crash manically through the story. They are sometimes singing, occasionally sashaying suggestively, and constantly silly.

Two minor characters appear as skeletons hanging from rails, their voices provided by the actors hiding their mouths behind newspapers as they have conversations – as multiple characters – with themselves. It is stupid, absurd, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Freja Gift’s direction and design gives both style and substance, ensuring lots of laughs without every becoming cruel. The conceit wears a little thin in places and a couple of judicious cuts to the text would help keep up the quality, but it never dips for long.

If you’re looking for a featherlight distraction to tickle you on these cold winter nights, you really should get a ticket. Oh yes you should.