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Isaac Saddlesore & the Witches of Drenn – 4 Stars

Isaac

Isaac Saddlesore & the Witches of Drenn

Hen & Chickens Theatre

Reviewed – 8th April 2018

★★★★

“This is not sophisticated comedy, and doesn’t pretend to be, but it is skilful theatre”

 

The Adventure of Isaac Saddlesore and the Witches of Drenn is a comedy caper in the style of a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Written by Callum Hale, who also gives a terrific turn as the blustering Aussie anti-hero Sir Maxwell Gropefund, it follows the private detective, Isaac Saddlesore, and his long-suffering companion Dr George Hotbuns as they seek to uncover the true cause of the curse which seemingly lies over the Gropefund family. The publicity promised an evening of ‘bad puns, single entendre and daft names aplenty’, and did not disappoint. What was a treat to discover however, was the professionalism of this young company, in evidence at every turn.

This is not sophisticated comedy, and doesn’t pretend to be, but it is skilful theatre. The Micawber Theatre Company run a tight ship and it was a pleasure to watch a piece of original comedy that was truly funny, pacy and well-rehearsed. Hale’s writing ably parodied the conventions set in place by Conan Doyle, with some frolicsome meta-theatrical touches pleasing to a 21st century palate. The cast worked extremely well as an ensemble, and there was some terrific multi-role work on display from Alice Osmanski and Sam Young in particular. Their ability to move between roles at high speed in the fast and furious denouement was delicious, and gave a shot of comedy aderenaline to the capacity crowd at the Hen & Chickens.

Lewis Allcock and Roger Parkins were well cast as the crime-fighting duo, though Saddlesore was the only role which seemed a trifle underwritten. Parkins gave a performance of tremendous brio, which occasionally overshadowed that of his capricious friend, owing to the quality of the material. Much was made of Saddlesore’s cocaine addiction, but the detective’s lines (pun entirely intended) didn’t always give Allcock what he needed. The comic business between the two was terrific throughout however, with the perfectly performed high speed chase a particular highlight.

The fact that a high speed chase was even possible in this tiny space is credit to Amy Wicks’ superb and inventive direction. The physical comedy was slickly choreographed and the space transformed with creative flair throughout. Dylan Allcock’s atmospheric and frequently hilarious musicianship also played an important part in the success of this energetic and entertaining production. The Micawber Theatre Company simply fizzes with talent and deserves every success.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

 

 

Isaac Saddlesore & the Witches of Drenn

Hen & Chickens Theatre

 

 

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