Ingoldsby Legends

There is something gorgeously comforting about a show that within five minutes of beginning you know you can relax and enjoy, because even the things that are ad libbed and unscripted are slick and professional, including anything that appears to go awry. Don’t be fooled by the humble setting and two lecterns. This latest offering from the inimitable, unique troupe that is The Foundry Group is fabulously fast-paced, jam-packed full of content and brim full of hilarity.

The Foundry Group once again have created something truly different, authentic, and utterly bonkers

Reverend Barham, (Murray Simon), introduces the story: telling us of Thomas Ingoldsby who has inherited a trunk full of antique manuscripts with accounts of ghostly ghoulish tales all told in verse. He introduces Mr Ingoldsby, (Brian Mitchell - who also co-wrote the piece), who then insists that all the grisly rhymes in the trunk are all in fact true. They then tell some of these tales together, playing all the parts with truly hilarious results. It’s as if someone put The Woman in Black in a blender with Morecambe and Wise and this is the result.

There are many levels on which to take this: the performances, use of incredibly inventive props, including appearances of a cardboard fish and Bagpuss, and everything in between. The almost slapstick chaos makes it on face value belly-laugh and guffaw funny. The use of sweeping brushes as horses including taped-on tiny lights for eyes on one of them is one of many standout moments.

But it’s also incredibly clever. The staging, the quality of the whole piece, even the choice of props, including the scale of the props compared to each other, are chosen with such consideration and care: they have thought of every aspect. Everything that could have been made funnier or more detailed has had that treatment.

They have a wonderful way of changing character just by changing hats, so you know instantly who they are. The voices and physicality change to match, with crazily comical results, and the whole piece builds and escalates to a satisfying and not entirely anticipated ending. Murray Simon's performance of a Welsh woman being courted, while wearing an ill-fitting Welsh hat, is another standout moment.

The writing by Brian Mitchell and Joseph Nixon is also is multi-layered. The tales are all in glorious rhyme, but it’s also evident that a great deal of research has gone into these tales, which are of the 18th Century style, including using pieces of language from that time – which are then explained very comically on held-up pieces of paper as the story is told. These stories are a great throwback to the ghostly folk tales made into films and TV in the 1970s, and this show would have fitted right into that short story genre, almost having a feel of that period. The writing is rich and clever and laden with imagery as well as hilarity.

The Foundry Group once again have created something truly different, authentic, and utterly bonkers. They have a style that nobody else has: they break the fourth wall so beautifully; they listen to the audience and take them along for the ride, all the while looking like they are having an absolute ball; being fabulous at something they truly love. Long may they continue to think up new ways to entertain us in such a fantastically special way.

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Reviews by Susanne Crosby

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Ingoldsby Legends

★★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Acclaimed writers Brian Mitchell & Joseph Nixon (Those Magnificent Men, Who Is No. 1?) have adapted the best of the supernatural tales of Thomas Ingoldsby into this hilarious show. Expect ghosts, demons, witches, smuggling, robbery, murder and walking clocks - all told in brilliantly witty, rumbustious verse: Performed by Brian Mitchell (Those Magnificent Men) and Murray Simon (Lord God) in a brand new production from OffWestEnd.com Theatre-Award-winners The Foundry Group.

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