Victorian and Gay
On at The Hope Theatre (London) until 31st Dec 2015
Another Soup are a lovely, friendly company, with a good ethos and warm heart, and I so wanted to love ‘Victorian and Gay’ in the same way I had their previous production ‘Lovett and Todd’ (a musical based on Sweeney Todd on at The Kings Head), however, despite it being an enjoyable evening, the show sadly falls just short compared to Another Soups’s previous accolade of theatre awards.
The show describes itself as ‘Riotous, bawdy, and raucous’ and it eventually lived up to this in moments towards the end of the 90 minute show; Lottie Davies’ boisterous Mrs. Winterbottom proving to be a huge hit with the audience, but the first part of the show felt a little underpowered and almost awkward at times. I don’t know if the cast were nervous as it was Press Night, but initial moments of their audience interaction felt forced and insecure. The Hope Theatre is a small venue, and the show is performed in the round meaning the cast are, literally as well as metaphorically, on top of the audience, so there’s nowhere to hide and sadly their energy didn’t quite hit the mark until half way through the show.
Thankfully the second half really was charming and they had totally won me over by the end. The show takes on an alternative festive style, taking the audience on a liquor infused journey through Christmas classic tales from Dickens to the Bronte’ Sisters, to a voyeuristic visit into the house of Queen Elizabeth and Albert. Monty Jones shines throughout as Gideon, and this pairing of Jones multi-rolling as Albert and Davies as Queen Elizabeth is one of the highlights of the show.
The piece also explores homosexual relationships in the Victorian times and has some very touching and truthful moments in its uncovering of the protagonist’s “bawdiest secret” which juxtapose wonderfully with the farcical, jovial nature of the majority of the show.
Another Soup are well versed in audience interaction, and are proud of their signature style of ‘Brechtian Immersion’; the nativity towards the end of ‘Victorian and Gay’ was a particular delight showing the company’s capability and had the entire audience grinning from ear to ear.
Perhaps my expectations for ‘Victorian and Gay’ were too high, and I have no doubt this show will improve with age… or I at least hope it will. Regardless, it is by no means a ‘Bah Humbug’ of a show, but a playful, enjoyable evening and I certainly left feeling more stuffed with Christmas spirit than I had on entering the building.
© Elle Dillon Reams 2015