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The Missionary's Position

Written by Bernadette Russell, devised by the Company
Penny Dreadful Theatre Company
Hoxton Hall
(2009)

Poster

Encouraged by the animated MC (Matt Devereaux) the audience launch into a chorus of ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’ as Mira Dovreni and Sarah Ratheram dance their way across the stage as music hall act ‘Fred and Fanny.’ Welcome to the world of Penny Dreadful in which music hall has not died and audience participation is a must.

Perfectly fitting the setting of Hoxton Hall with its faded Victorian glamour The Missionary’s Position is a naughty romp through the life and times of Harold Davidson, a vicar eventually defrocked by the church for befriending young women in Soho. Maintaining that he was saving their bodies and souls, he protested his innocence long after his trial and it is left for the audience to decide whose side to believe.

Played with charm and excitable eccentricity by Greg Haiste, the Vicar does fare rather well in the proceedings and his scenes with Barbara (Marie Lawrence) are comic rather than lecherous. Lawrence sparkles as the West End sparrow caught in the Vicar’s web and her saucy asides would be at home in any Carry On film.

Dovreni and Ratherham display their versatility, switching with ease between playing prostitutes, duchesses, bishops and detectives in the winding plot. Devereaux also clearly relishes his different roles and creates a likable but authoritative presence as the MC.

Through the conceit of the vicar interrupting a variety show mid-flow and then agreeing to join in with the story, the company allow themselves the luxury of authentic songs, banter with the audience and the licence to create truly grotesque characters. The result is a highly entertaining show that maintains an air of farcical theatricality whilst investing fully in the story and every single character portrayed.

Be prepared to sing, groan, laugh and be totally captivated by the The Missionary’s Position.

Reviewer: Amy Yorston