No Wise Men

Written by Steven Canny and John Nicholson
Directed by Gemma Bodinetz
Liverpool Playhouse
4th December 2010 - 15th January 2011

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This inventive and bizarre production by Peepolykus is very different from traditional seasonal fare, even though it incorporates a mixture of Christmas tales.

One of the most notable features is the highly imaginative stage design (designer Jon Bausor deserves a special thumbs up), which incorporates sliding panels, doors and layers, and lends an added surreal quality to the magical events taking place on stage.

There are many disparate elements in the production: there are strong references to Oliver Twist, together with Nancy, A Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life, and most predominantly Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl.

This pick and mix method generally worked successfully, though quite what Oliver Twist has to do with Christmas is a mystery. Scrooge would have been more appropriate - what with the ghosts within the story, etc.

After a pedestrian start the six cast members of Peepolykus - renowned for their extraordinary parody of The Hounds Of The Baskervilles at the Playhouse - get into full comic mode during the second part with various crazy antics and storytelling of an oddball nature.

No Wise Men centres around Jack (John Nicholson) - a scheming, selfish individual - who has had his identity taken over by a enigmatic figure Murray (Javier Marzan) after he fails to fulfil a solemn promise to him.

Through this interchange Jack is vividly shown the errors of his ways, through a number of madcap sequences, including being transported back to Victorian England.

Director Gemma Bodinetz (she also merits a special thumbs up!) ably captures the spirit of Christmas - though I am not sure how tongue in cheek she felt about the project.

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