Don’t take my word for it – get a ticket to Black RAT’s latest autumn romp and have a laugh-out-loud evening. This joint production with Blackwood Miners Institute combines everything that makes Black RAT’s show unmissable, clever writing, fast-paced action, quick-fire costumes changes required by players taking multiple roles, and the feeling that we are just this side of everything going pear shaped. Of course, it doesn’t, although on this performance the show’s writer and director, Richard Tunley, also had to step in for one of the four actors adding another level of high-octane adventure to the show. In fact, the couple of fluffed lines added to the fun.
It would be tempting to say it has a slight feeling of panto and farce, but some might take that as an insult, which it very much is not. Rather it has elements of interaction with the audience, breaking down the fourth wall, comedy that is just this side of slapstick, humour that works on a level that everyone gets with some (not always subtle) grown-up smut, double entendre, and hints (such as the nature of the relationship between Holmes and Watson).
This time the show also has songs and music from Kieran Bailey which are not always perfect, the one for Moriarty fell a bit flat, but the hip-hop and rap ensembles were a treat. The four players showed some nifty moves and we even had Lady Gaga bangers played by Homes on his famous fiddle.
The cast Zoë Davies, Daniel Llewelyn-Williams, Owen Pugh and Tunley standing in for Pedro Lloyd Gardiner was fabulous, carrying off their daft roles with aplomb and leaving the audience as exhausted as they must have been with all of us hanging on every word to keep up with the story which was based on a plot to destroy the Empire by abducting Queen Victoria and the clues all being in the form of nursery rhymes leading Holmes and Watson on a daft dash across London. It would ruin the experience to give away and more of the plot, but it is all hilarious.
Daniel Llewelyn-Williams and Zoë Davies
Daniel Llewelyn-Williams and Owen Pugh are marvellous as the super sleuth and his side kick, and Zoë Davies wows in every manifestation from the housekeeper at Baker Street Mrs Hudson to Irish bar maid Mrs O’Brien (plenty of fecking fun), Bishop Hawthorn who gets bashed (gettit) to a funky Queen Victoria. Tunley similarly has to race around the roles from the King of Bohemia to a manic boatman, a cheeky cab driver to the arch enemy Moriarty.
Along the way there is a wealth of theatrical jollity and I guarantee you will find it impossible not to guffaw, groan and be swept along. This show reminds you how the experience of being with an audience at a live show cannot be replaced with the sofa.
3 to 5 – Blackwood Miners’ Institute
9 – Memo Arts Centre, Barry
11 – The Met Abertillery
12 – The Coliseum, Aberdare
13 – Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon
14 – Park & Dare Theatre, Treorchy
18 – The Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl
19 – The Lyric, Carmarthen
20 – Mwldan, Cardigan
21 – Pontardawe Arts Centre
24 – Stiwt Theatre, Wrexham
1 – The Ffwrness, Llanelli
3 – Aberystwyth Arts Centre
4 – The Hafren, Newtown
6 – Borough Theatre, Abergavenny
9 to 11 – Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff
Photography: Sofie Bainbridge Photography
Main image: Daniel Llewelyn-Williams, Owen Pugh