The Gielgud Theatre hosts Ben Elton's stage version of his acclaimed TV show, Upstart Crow. David Mitchell stars as the Bard himself in what is Mitchell's debut stage performance – although you would never have guessed. Gemma Whelan as Kate, Rob Rouse as Bottom and Steven Spiers playing Burbage are all cast members from the original television series.
This all-new stage adventure will not disappoint.
It's time to pull up your "puffling pants" and have a "futtingly" good night out. Rouse is outstanding as Bottom. His dry delivery and sarcastic tones which bring Shakespeare sharply back to reality are superbly delivered; he is my star of the show. The ever-growing costume worn by Dr John Hall (Mark Heap) raised many laughs as he desperately tried to woo Kate by showing off his exaggerated "Coddington".
The quick-witted comedy you expect from Elton runs throughout this incredibly funny stage production. Predictably he writes much social commentary into the plot with jibes at how some groups are treated by the theatrical establishment. Public transport, for instance, gets the Upstart treatment when our hero has to take a replacement donkey service. These anachronistic gems are liberally scattered within the text and you never quite know what will come next.
As far as I could work out every one of Shakespeare's plays was referenced at some point, either in the form of a direct quote or something he was about to write – mocking some of his less successful works as they went along.
Alice Power, the talented lady responsible for set and costume design, has such an eye for detail. The Stratford streets where Shakespeare lived to the internal furnishings at his London lodgings allow you to suspend your disbelief and briefly be transported back to the 16th century.
The BBC television series offers comedy gold over three series, but whether you have watched it or not this all-new stage adventure will not disappoint.