Photo from Matthew Linley (producer) 

As we take our seats in the Playhouse auditorium it is impossible to ignore the busy stage that is covered with what looks like rejected items from a steampunk accessory catalogue photographed in an abandoned castle.  The audience is a mix of kids and adults, and we are all enjoying a bit of warmth and shelter as Storm Hannah blows outside.

The show starts with the poet’s sideman Joe Allen coming onto stage and fossicking quietly about with several items before making two cups of tea in some ludicrously ornate gold crockery. Joe looks a bit like Bill Bailey, with a similar impish glint in his eye and a natural talent for physical comedy.  There are some minutes of this with the audience tittering at his movements until he is joined on stage by the very tall figure of Murray Lachlan Young looking like a rather dapper mad professor in clothes that almost fit but are not long enough.

There is more amusing fossicking before we are treated to the wonderful deep theatrical voice of Murray Lachlan Young as he starts to tell us the tale of Raddlesham Mumps.  He unfolds in verse a wonderful Gothic tale of a doomed family who own a crumbling old building but suffer mysterious demises over seven generations.  The lugubriously slow start helps to set a mood of expectation in the audience as Murray Lachlan Young tells of the lives and untimely deaths of the seven family ancestors of Crispin deQuincy de Faversham Clumps, the seven year old at the heart of this drama who has just inherited the crumbling pile that is Raddlesham Mumps.

Gradually the stage full of props begins to make sense as the sidekick Joe scuttles around the stage for the appropriate item for the next stanza of this woeful tale.  The contrast between the two visually and in their demeanour and movement is naturally funny and very well executed.  They introduce us to the ancient figure of Kenilworth, the 100 year old Butler, who tells young Crispin the story of his family’s fate.
Murray and Joe and their skilled creative team have constructed a thoroughly enjoyable show for children and their adults to enjoy.  While it tells of some gory events it is never unpleasant or nasty and is very funny from start to finish.  The show is part of a package of offerings including a book, sound album and virtual reality experience in addition to the live shows – there are even a few touch screen tablets suitably framed in the waiting area to give you hints of what is to come.  This 6000 word verse drama is just the right length for a stage show for all ages – time for plenty of drama but short enough that you will leave wanting more.  Murray has created a magical and charming world which unfolds before us on stage as he draws everyone into the colourful saga of the de Faversham Clumps of Raddlesham Mumps, who won the place on the turn of a card – but have they lost everything now?  You will have to go and see to find out.

© Julian Swainson 2019



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