remote goat - theatre reviews
birmingham botanical gardens 15th december 2010
by debra hall
james reynard, director, lead player, and writer of extended scenes in this instance, has coupled a christmas theme with a ghost story - and we know what can be achieved with that idea! firstly, it is fair to say, that this production does deliver an entertaining christmas show that manages to embrace the fluffiness and all that we come to expect in regard to the excruciatingly jovial side of the festive season. and secondly, as many of our christmas traditions stem from the victorian era, reynard has cleverly interwoven those familiar elements with the wonderful old tale of sir simon and his haunting exploits, without deconstructing the original in any which way. reynard's own clever wit and limitless versatility is evident in all counts.
the work of rain or shine is mainly played out at outdoor venues, and so i would imagine getting the set design right for this current tour, so as not to encumber internal settings within village and church halls etc. to be quite difficult. i hasten to add all was achieved in the case of birmingham last night. i must mention too, that the costume detail was exquisite - from head down to toe!
the seating was set out straight and centred on a small stage in the vast room, which made it a little uncomfortable for members of the audience to join in with the carol singing when prompted by the cast, who, by the way, were working so hard at trying to set a mood. where a different kind of seating arrangement in a different kind of venue together with the chance to buy some warm, mulled fruit juice and mince pies at interval, or maybe some hot chocolate for the kids may have gone some way to enable the embracement of the christmassy spirit and to warm the heart, as well as the vocal chords.
for the benefit of this critique, i wished i had lingered afterwards to collect a comment or two from the little boys i saw watching. there is no doubt the ghostly goings ons were cheekily funny and the sound effects of the dragging chains and sir simon's moaning and wailing off stage added to all the good that was accomplished. it is timeless fun after all, and children have always loved this kind of stuff, and so i think families thinking about making a booking will definitely enjoy it. wilde is known to be farcical and silly with his humour. but this is not pantomime; this is classy, family entertainment.
i am confident that the cast of this exceptionable theatre company, who are touring this show mostly around the gloucestershire area from now on - up until mid january, will deliver a polished performance every time.