The Victorian in the Wall

Written and Co-Directed by Will Adamsdale
Unity Theatre
April 6th 2013

Reviewed by Sarah Ryan

With an already impressive back catalogue, including a Perrier award for Comedy 2004 for ‘Jackson’s Way’, Will Adamsdale and company have brought a smorgasboard of delights to the Unity in their new production, ‘The Victorian in the Wall’.

An intriguing title I thought and it does what it says on the tin, by serving us up with the gentle, card collecting Victorian gentleman, Mr Elms, ( played in a beautifully understated way by Matthew Steer), who’s been bricked up inside the wall all this time. Who’d have thought that a Victorian could possibly save the day for the work-shy writer guy, sharply observed by Will Adamsdale, who has a to do list that makes me feel smug!

Left on his own, as his girlfriend; (played by the talented Melanie Wilson); has to go to Denmark for work, this writer guy suddenly has to deal with the pressing details of London life. Knock-throughs, barking dogs and unhelpful council employees, recycling dos and don’ts, a script deadline that’s out of control and a cultural builder who prefers ballet to football! No more the old Kent Road East End as represented by Mr Elms and his music hall landlady Lou Porter, this production has a musical laugh at gentrification and middle class, modern preoccupations.

If that wasn’t enough the writer is in danger of losing his girlfriend as they drift along in a relationship where she calls him ‘mate’ and he doesn’t know what her job is. All is riding on this ‘knock-through’ which could be ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back in the relationship’. Despite not having any instructions from his girlfriend on how to deal with the unexpected, the bizarre arrival of Mr Elms could be the saving of our writer. As their stories intermingle, we are introduced to another strange addition to the household in the guise of an adult Nigerian orphan, played exuberantly by Jason Barnett, who had been ’adopted’ by the writer for charity and who turns up at his door. Both Mr Elms and the Nigerian share a fear of God and the Queen and both enable the writer to achieve some kind of epiphany by ‘wronging’ and to great comic effect his grip on life starts to improve when he manages to open the compost bin!

With an inventive set incorporating an impressive array of props, all of which are used percussively throughout the production and a cast of talented all-rounders, this production breathes fresh life into physical comedy and brought the house down. With a light touch, it’s themes ring a bell with everyone who’s ever put something off ‘til tomorrow, or tried to navigate the choppy and sometimes downright, confusing seas of modern life and relationships.

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