‘The best fun you can have with your clothes on this Christmas’: OEDIPUSS IN BOOTS – Bristol ★★★★★

In Musicals, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews by Kris HallettLeave a Comment

Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol – until 20 January 2019

The Wardrobe has done it again. Oedipuss In Boots is the best fun you can have with your clothes on this Christmas season, an adult festive delight that finds the specificity in silliness and comes across like a mix of Monty Python at their zaniest and Trey and Matt Parker at their filthiest.

Over the past seven years, the team behind the Wardrobe Theatre have made their own tradition creating an alternative to the regions festive cheer. In past years they have thrown franchises together to see what sticks; Die Hard and Muppets, Tarantino and Cats, Rocky – both the boxing franchise and the horror show. This year they tackle just the one tale, although it’s a Grandaddy, the Greek myth of Oedipus, destined to kill his father and marry his Mum, as Fate sultrily tells us ‘if anyone knows their Greek theatre, bodies will be piled up by the end’.

In some ways only having one source material can be seen as a disappointment, one of the chief pleasures of Wardrobe shows past, has been seeing how the team put the two source materials together. Yet by only having to focus on one throughline, this time they can focus on just the laughs. If film critic Mark Kermode judges a comedy on a six laugh test, by my reckoning Oedipuss hits a belly laugh about once every 15 seconds. Over 85 minutes? By my calculations somewhere around 340 guffaws. It’s no wonder some members on Twitter have complained about aching ribs on the way out.

Director Chris Collier, composer and lyricist Kid Carpet and the four-strong cast have obviously had a ball making this show. As the patricide destined and mother loving moggy, Adam Blake’s shaggy hair exterior blends right into his puppet made body. He blends teenager gormlessness and attitude to perfection, as kitten turns into big cat. This moment of transformation, with Andrew Kingston’s Jocasta, may be the most graphic sex scene I’ve ever seen upon a stage, it certainly is the funniest. You have been warned.

Jannah Warlow is a slinky chanteuse fate, commentating on everything and always at hand to play another instrument while the ever funny Harry Humberstone threatens to steal everything in another riotous turn.

So if you want to ‘bah humbug’ A Christmas Carol and feel sick at the charms of Cinderella, this is probably the show for you. Just be prepared for your sides to ache for days afterwards.

Kris Hallett on Twitter
Kris Hallett
Kris Hallett is a writer, critic, director and teacher based in Bristol and Bath. From 2010-2014, he was Artistic Director of theatre company Fire Under The Horizon. He has been reviewing theatre in the South West for various publications since 2013. He now publishes on his own Life as Theatre blog. He tweets @krishallett.
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Kris Hallett on Twitter
Kris Hallett
Kris Hallett is a writer, critic, director and teacher based in Bristol and Bath. From 2010-2014, he was Artistic Director of theatre company Fire Under The Horizon. He has been reviewing theatre in the South West for various publications since 2013. He now publishes on his own Life as Theatre blog. He tweets @krishallett.