It’s difficult to believe Wolf is the work of just one man, so vivid and detailed is the world that creator and performer Lewis Doherty manages to create entirely by himself in this rollickingly entertaining, noir-inflected solo thriller.
Doherty plays all the inhabitants of Shadow City, a dark, Gotham-esque metropolis full of mastermind criminals and crooked cops. His hero is Patrick Wolf, an ex-policeman back in town to clear up the murder of his former colleague.
Under co-artistic director of The North Wall John Hoggarth’s direction, Doherty takes us on a whirlwind ride through the dives and drinking dens of Shadow City. There’s a brilliant bar brawl in a neon-lit nightclub. There’s a high-speed chase featuring a cyborg ninja. There’s a cliff-hanger climax on the rooftop of an abandoned tower block.
All of this, and more, is miraculously conjured up by Doherty using an exuberant mixture of mime, narration and cartoonish characters. He is a chameleon of a performer, shifting instantly between a cigar-chewing chief of police, an upper-class British baddie and a host of sneering, squealing, snorting Shadow City lowlife.
There’s a stylish, cinematic swagger to all of this, and playful, knowing wit as well. Bring on the sequel.