Something odd is happening at the Unicorn Theatre this Christmas… A pair of hyenas are trying to pass themselves off as human, and are living in a house! They have become Mr and Mrs Bold, having taken the opportunity to assume the lives of some unfortunate tourists in Tanzania who fell foul of a hungry crocodile, and they now live happily with their pups, Bobby and Betty, in Teddington. It’s tricky behaving like a human, but they successfully keep their difference secret until one day Mr McNumpty, their grumpy neighbour finds out, and starts to keep an eye on them and their human friend, Minnie. Later, a trip to the safari park finds them in an action packed adventure to rescue an older hyena, Tony, in danger of being put to sleep. When he comes to live with them their relationship with Mr McNumpty changes completely!
Written by Julian Clary, The Bolds is a hilarious story of acceptance, and how we should not judge people by appearances. His sharp script is perky, quirky and surprising, provides plenty of opportunity for fun and participation, which has the audience howling with laughter. The terrific ensemble cast give a highly polished performance, excelling at dancing, close harmony singing and toilet humour in equal measure. Hyenas love to laugh, and the audience can’t help but join in when David Ahmad, as the irrepressible Mr Bold, churns out masses of cheesy dad jokes to get us chortling. Amanda Gordon is fabulous as Mrs Bold – and what a voice! Meanwhile, Mae Munuo and Sam Swann as the twins bring tremendous dynamism, energy and humour to the stage. It is their friend Minnie, played sensitively by Charity Beddu-Addo, who adds an understated poignancy to the story, reminding us that the most ordinary-looking people don’t necessarily have a straightforward life when you stop to look.
James Button‘s innovative, flexible set works brilliantly alongside Anna Watson’s excellent lighting design, taking us flawlessly from the plains of Africa to the kitchens of suburbia, a moving car and even underground, using colour and motion to exciting effect.
The live music and songs by Julian Clary and Simon Wallace really propel the action forward, with the audience given ample opportunity to clap and sing along. There’s so much fun to be had here, with musical styles from music hall to rock and roll – definitely something for everyone. Clary is also delightfully present in voiceovers before the show and in a scene at the safari park, where he gets more giggles by complaining about the Bolds’ blue Honda.
Like all good Christmas shows a few of the lines are subtly for the adults rather than the kids. Sam Pay as the marvellously miserable Mr McNumpty and John Trenchard as adorable Uncle Tony do a great job of keeping a straight face when delivering a few naughty, under-the-radar references; but it’s all done in the best possible taste.
I think it’s fair to say we are all really ready for a bit of fun this Christmas, so get the family down to the Unicorn to enjoy laughs aplenty, and a good old-fashioned sing-song with the Bolds. You know you want to…
Written and adapted for the stage by Julian Clary
Songs by Julian Clary and Simon Wallace
Arrangements and incidental music by Simon Wallace
Directed by Lee Lyford
Designed by James Button
Lighting Design by Anna Watson
Sound Design by Dinah Mullen
Choreography by Natasha Harrison
Assistant Director Ewa Dina
Fight Director Bethan Clarke
The Bolds plays at Unicorn Theatre until 31 December, including socially distanced and relaxed performances. Check Unicorn Theatre’s website for further details and bookings, via the below link.