Surreal, silly, spectacular, Minotaur Theatre Company presents a comic gem of a show that is a thoroughly entertaining experience. Deprived of daylight and customers for over thirty years, the librarians of Tinderghast Library have gone more than a little bit loopy. Mandrake Hardbach (Harry Denniston) in his hatred of books and desire for power resolves to butcher his way to the position of Chief Librarian, aided and impeded in equal measures by his bonkers, incompetent colleagues.
The energy of the performance was exemplary and really carried the wacky narrative. Though a little thin on story, the presentation is so well executed that it is easily forgotten. I could quite happily have continued to watch these characters go about their daily business. The cast were obviously having a whale of a time which was incredibly infectious.
In complement to the fast-paced mania is a witty if groan-inducing script: ‘I shall have the Marlowe’ proclaims the book-eating Chief Librarian upon perusing literary vintage for dinner. On top of it being a devised piece, it appears that many ad-libs have made it into permanent use (or at least may well end up as such) - there is dangerous possibility of such a fluid show becoming wracked with in-jokes, yet it never felt as if we were being excluded from the action.
Set pieces such as the wonderful slave-song parody opening and puppetry are performed sharply. It is a shame that this does not extend to a frantic montage which looked a little sloppy and hurried. There is no reason why it should be so: actors throw books around at each other all the time, displaying great co-ordination and sleight of hand. This section could have done with more precise choreography.
The show lost its momentum somewhat as time drew to a close but fortunately struck back in the final five minutes. There was me thinking I had reached laughter saturation. I’m nitpicking, really. I had an absolute ball at what is a gloriously over-the-top production: if my local library were anything like this, I’d be their best customer.