A family comedy show with a twist, Liz and Jessie's Undiscovered Country follows Liz and Jessie as they set out to explore places in the UK that may have had a connection to the tomb of Merlin from the time of King Arthur. Created by Simon Messingham, this show had a good amount of straight talking wit, historical reinactments, and a villain who set out to cause trouble as they got closer to finding the truth.
A family comedy show with a twist
The three ladies involved were extremely strong performers and it was also lovely to see fun and dynamic roles that had been created for older particularly as younger actors wouldn't have worked as well.
Jessie Fredericks played a version of herself who was very sweet in nature, but was not afraid to speak her mind if something did not sit well with her. When she reinacted King Arthur in order to set the scenes of the origins of Merlin's tomb, she played him with an attitude of a modern 'hip' monarch, and a playfulness that indicated he was still willing to learn.
Elizabeth Downes, in complete contrast, played Liz - a harsh, hard talking woman reminiscent of the late Steve Irwin, who believed she could inspire anyone to survive in the wild. The energy she had as she challenged Jessie's gentle nature was full of passion and did not hold anything back. This was especially evident as she wanted to share with us in a lecture how you could dissect a hedgehog, and when she protected her friend for dear life as the show progressed.
Emily Piercy played Lady Piercy, a vain, but glamorous woman who wanted to get to Merlin's tomb to find treasure to add to her ever growing collection of jewellery. She played this character with vivacity, and a sense of vulnerability as she desired to be acknowledged for her looks. Her comic timing also showed a sense of purpose as she tried to throw the two ladies off the scent.
Simon Messingham played the 'nice but dim' stage hand, as well as Merlin himself. He was a little mixed in terms of his performance on the day I watched him. The stage hand character seemed to be not quite present on stage, despite some golden comedy moments coming out in response to a mirror being present on stage and what he did with it. But his Merlin became a hippy from the Sixties who was 'on the herbs' a lot, and he seemed to be more at ease with this character while he released his wisdom and set a trap to trick Morgana the sorceress.
Despite Messingham's stage hand character, and parts of the script that needed reworking, Liz and Jesse's Undiscovered Country had great potential to be an extremely strong show that gives families something different to watch. It had a good storyline, fun characters and when Downes and Piercy embodied Morgana herself later on, it pulled everything together to make this a special performance.