Pros: Harmless fun
Cons: Contrived and unsophisticated
I blame the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Since they unleashed their innovative and hugely profitable debut show The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1987, a plethora of shows have proliferated that milk the Bard for comic potential. Shit-faced Shakespeare was one such twist, and now the franchise has extended its reach to plunder that other great of English literature, Charles Dickens.
The deal is that an adaptation of Oliver Twist is hysterically derailed by one cast member who’s been drinking steadily for the previous four hours. The sober members of the company have to go along with whatever drunken deviations arise while still attempting to tell the story.
On this occasion the designated drinker was Jessica Hern, who played Oliver, and who comically claimed to be Maggie Smith’s granddaughter. I have to say that while this assertion left me little more than bemused, it brought most of the rest of the house down on each of the half dozen times it was repeated.
There’s plenty of music in the show, although Hern was prevented from giving her rendition of Queen’s I Want To Break Free, supposedly for copyright reasons. Elsewhere, we were treated to a couple of Lionel Bart numbers from his classic musical version Oliver!, a bit of My Fair Lady, and an oddly straight-faced but rather good I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables.
An approximation of the original plot is just about salvaged by the multi-rolling sober cast, and everyone seems to be having a whale of a time. I enjoyed the sight gag of ferocious mutt Bullseye, but not much else.
The chap sitting next to me was wetting himself from the outset, so it’s probably a case of horses for courses. Ideal entertainment for students or the easily pleased. If you fancy spending £17 on this gimmicky confection, I’m sure you can consider yourself at home.
Writers: Katy Baker & Lewis Ironside
Director: Katy Baker
Producer: Issy Wroe Wright
Booking until: 9th September 2018
Box office: 020 7734 2222
Booking link: https://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873585343