Victorian and Gay, The Hope Theatre, review: ‘A jolly good party’

Lottie Davis as The Ghost of Marley in Victorian and Gay. Picture: Pete O'Shea

Lottie Davis as The Ghost of Marley in Victorian and Gay. Picture: Pete O'Shea - Credit: Archant

This drunken Victorian night is an enjoyably chaotic mixture of party games and pantomime, says Aline Waites.

The date is 1865ish, and Lady Ermintrude and Lady Griselda are having a Christmas Party. They invite their friends: the handsome Gideon; Louis, who is a talented pianist; and the audience. Not invited but ever present is the angry cook Mrs Winterbottom.

We are thrust into the middle of this event and are encouraged – even bullied – into taking part. The party actually starts in the pub downstairs where the guests are encouraged by the hosts to buy and consume alcohol. It’s just as well because, unusual for a party, the only guests who are given alcohol are the members of the cast – especially Mrs Winterbottom who guzzles throughout.

There are many party games, most of which end in chaos. They do a truncated version of A Christmas Carol, the book by Mr Dickens (‘We don’t approve of his private life, but it is a good story’), with Gideon as Scrooge and Mrs Winterbottom on her knees as Tiny Tim.

She also appears as Queen Victoria with her late husband Albert, who is played by a fully guttural Gideon.

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Members of the audience take part in all the events – especially the end one which is a Nativity play – with audience members as sheep, shepherds, wise men and angels.

This is an ingenious production with some lines like ‘Ladies don’t cook. Cooks cook and Ladies... Lady’.

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It is the brainchild of Bethany Greenwood and Steffi Walker, who play the ladies and also design their huge crinoline dresses.

Gideon is Monty Jones and at the piano, Tom Jack Merivale is Louis. But of course the most showy role is that of Mrs Winterbottom, played by Lottie Davies.

We will discover all their secrets by the end. But its a jolly good party.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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