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 The Theatreguide.London Review

The Victorian In The Wall
Royal Court Theatre Upstairs  Spring  2013

This is a fun show.

It doesn't make much sense, it doesn't seem to have much of a point, and it ends with plot loose ends strewn about everywhere. But it is so filled with the sheer joy of storytelling and making theatre, and is such a celebration of imagination, that you just give yourself over to it, stop asking questions, and enjoy the ride. 

A young couple living in a gentrifying neighbourhood are doing up their flat. She goes off on business, leaving him with two tasks: let the builder in, and work on the TV script he's supposed to be writing. And then a string of odd things happen. 

Stripping away the wallpaper reveals a Victorian gentleman who used to live here and who happily adjusts to the world of fresh orange juice and TV remotes. The African orphan they've been sponsoring appears on the doorstep as a grown man saying 'Daddy!' And perhaps most improbable of all, the builder shows up on time and does a good job. 

The TV script keeps getting put off, the Victorian has a cautionary tale to tell, the African may or may not actually be there, and the girlfriend returns to discover a chaos that may be beyond explanation. 

All this is communicated by a cast of five, with author/co-director (with Lyndsey Turner) Will Adamsdale playing the guy named Guy and the other four playing Everyone Else along with assorted neighbours, voices, music and sound effects. 

And it's in that quick changing of roles, seemingly spontaneous bursting into song and radio-like creation of a whole environment out of sound effects that a lot of the imagination and fun of the show comes. 

As playwright, Will Adamsdale credits 'additional material from the company', and when you compare stage directions in the published text like 'A chorus of compost bins provides backing vocals' or 'Somehow Fi's journey towards the flat is evoked' with the delightful visuals they turn into, you realise how much of a collaborative venture and adventure the show is, and how much joy of invention went into it. 

Somewhere amidst all the inventiveness there is a small point, something about getting off your duff and actually doing something with your life, but you can be excused for missing it and perfectly happy without it. 

Kudos to the two directors, to Adamsdale as genial and attractive performer, and to his hard-working and inventive co-creators and performers, Jason Barnett, Chris Branch, Matthew Steer and Melanie Wilson, for creating a constantly surprising and always warmly entertaining ninety minutes.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review -  The Victorian In The Wall - Royal Court 2013 

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