Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Elephant Man does Cilla Black, and Sherlock Holmes meets the Virgin Mary

As Alison Goldie in WhatsOnStage put it:
Thought you'd seen enough versions of Sherlock Holmes? Think again. This madcap take on the classic, glistening like a jewel in the perfect setting of Wilton's Music Hall, is a treat to season your Christmas with much-needed hilarity.
And "hilarious" it certainly was!

Mrs Hudson’s Christmas Corker, a surreal sort-of cross between panto, Music Hall and good old-fashioned smutty humour, is the brainchild of the legendary Barry Cryer (the writer who has collaborated with just about every late 20th century comedian of note including Dave Allen, Stanley Baxter, Jack Benny, John Cleese, George Burns, Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Dick Emery, Kenny Everett, Bruce Forsyth, David Frost, Bob Hope, The Goodies, Frankie Howerd, Richard Pryor, Spike Milligan, Danny La Rue, Mike Yarwood, The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise), his son Bob and the fantabulosa performance troupe Spymonkey.

With the much-overlooked Mrs Hudson (Sophie Russell), landlady of Holmes' 221b Baker Street residence, at its centre, the show tenuously links three madcap adventures for Holmes (Toby Park) and Watson (Aitor Basauri) - including an irreverent investigation into the virgin birth - with Mrs H and her loony neighbour Mrs Brayley (Petra Massey) along for the ride. But of course, with a cast of just four, they all get to play the rest of the characters as well.

What other play has ever featured appearances by Karl Marx, God, Oscar Wilde, King Herod, Fu Manchu and John Merrick together? I, for one, have certainly never experienced a "sing-a-long-a-Jack-the-Ripper" anywhere else! And when it came to The Elephant Man's stand-up impressionist routine, tears of hysterical laughter were streaming down our faces.

All the elements of traditional panto were there (the catchphrase - we had to shout "Corker" every time anyone said "Christmas" - the aforementioned sing-a-long, a pantomime donkey, plenty of slapstick and pratfalls) but, as a show entirely for adults, there were loads of filthy jokes, ribald audience participation and even a flash of willy on stage!

The songs were all very silly, as were the "plots", the dialogue and the improvised backdrops - but one could tell that behind its apparently chaotic "am-dram" appearance, this was a tightly controlled and very well put together production. The backing band (with surprising solo performances from Messrs Park and Basauri on clarinet and sax, respectively), on-stage throughout, were great. The ensemble cast were all excellent - in particular Miss Massey who stole every scene, whether playing a dotty old lady, a "Mafia-esque" Herod or a dirty-minded French-speaking Archangel Gabriel. As a show, even if at times you could hear jaws dropping around the magnificent hall at Wilton's, it works.

It was certainly huge fun, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world!

Mrs Hudson’s Christmas Corker is on at Wilton's Music Hall until 31st December 2014.


  1. It was indeed brilliant. I can't remember the last time I actually cried laughing. If course, the 100% proof mulled wine helped...

    1. There was wine in that warm brandy?!

  2. Replies
    1. "Your goose is cooked, Mr Holmes!"



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