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Variety Soup

Leicester Square Theatre, London

This strange show is difficult to categorise. It is described by the theatre as “avariety gang show for the 21st century”. It mixes stunts, magic, illusions, juggling, songs, and puppets. It has moments of inspired lunacy, an air of friendly chaos, and a cast of slightly fat men. Like any episodic show, it doesn’t maintain its level of humour consistently but there were moments of magic.

The show begins with a double act of juggling – and it’s superb. As the clubs hurtle back and forth across the stage other members of the cast wander through the flying objects. Amongst the highlights is a brilliant parody of “Find the Lady”, two inspired appearances by a glove puppet puppy which does the “catch the speeding bullet in its teeth” trick, and, near the end, Wayne Marvel and his performing white tigers.

There are some less successful moments. There is a very creepy escapology routine with cling film taking the pace of locks and chains. The “can you see what it is yet” painter is slow and the madcap rhythm of the whole show is interrupted – and Herbie Treehead’s singalong song near the end doesn’t quite do it for me though many in the audience are very happy to sing along, clap and stand up. The obligatory moment when a member of the audience is dragged up on stage to “help” with a trick just about works but it is only a whisker short of toe-curling. The final tableau is wonderful though those of a nervous disposition – or a dislike for fat sweaty male bodies – might be well advised to keep their eyes closed.

  • Comedy
  • Producer: Mike Perrin
  • Cast includes: Gareth Jones, Jon Hicks, Goronwy Thom, Richard Garaghty
  • Leicester Square Theatre, London
  • Until 29th December 2014
  • Time: 20.40
  • Review by Owen Davies
  • 18 December 2014

About The Author

Reviewer (UK)

Owen Davies was brought up in London but has Welsh roots. He was raised on chapel hymns, Handel oratorios and Mozart arias. He began going to the theatre in the 1960s and, as a teenager, used to stand at the back of the Old Vic stalls to watch Olivier's National Theatre productions. He also saw many RSC productions at the Aldwych in the 1960s. At this time he also began to see operas at Covent Garden and developed a love for Mozart, Verdi, and Richard Strauss. After a career as a social worker and a trade union officer, Owen has retired from paid employment but as a 'mature student' he has recently gained a certificate in Opera Studies from Rose Bruford College.​

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