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Victorian and Gay review at Hope Theatre, London – ‘lively, cheeky romp’

Lottie Davis in Victorian and Gay at the Hope Theatre, London. Photo: Pete O'Shea Lottie Davis in Victorian and Gay at the Hope Theatre, London. Photo: Pete O'Shea

And so we find ourselves as guests in the jovial Christmas setting of a Victorian parlour.

Anyone who doesn’t like to participate should leave now because the five characters in attendance engage with audience members from the outset, whether they like it or not.

Monty Jones’ Gideon is particularly charismatic – a Rufus Wainwright-esque dandy who entertains the guests with a mixture of wit and sarcasm, and excellent comic timing.

The story itself seems like a bit of a work in progress – there are flashes of brilliance but the tone is inconsistent and sometimes it all gets a bit too slapstick and there are too many bodies rolling around on the floor. They are clearly having a great time but the entertainment doesn’t always extend as far as the audience members.

Tom Jack Merivale, who plays Louis, is a talented musician and natural performer and Steffi Walker, as Lady Griselda, is a great anchor to the proceedings, trying to keep the party at least superficially decent and certainly gay – but the whole piece does hinge unnervingly on active and enthusiastic guests.

The group creates a marvellous atmosphere though, with Bethany Greenwood’s subtle portrayal as dainty Lady Ermentrude contrasting nicely with the sullen, gruff Mrs Winterbottom (Lottie Davies).

It’s advisable for guests to have at least one glass of Dutch courage in the bar beforehand because – wallflowers be advised – there are certainly few places to hide.

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Lively, cheeky, romp with some colourful Victorian characters, but could do with being slightly less chaotic