You can always rely on the egg theatre for an excellent Christmas production, and this year’s show is certainly no exception
Sacre bleu! Dastardly things are afoot in France and unless something is done really, really quickly, the Count de Tourné and his performing poodles are destined for the guillotine! The only ones who can help are the fearless league of 20, including their leader, that master of disguise, The Scarlet Pimpernel.
The Christmas production at the egg theatre is always a treat – last year’s show, Little Mermaid, even won the Best Show for Children and Young People at the UK Theatre Awards. So my family and I turned up confident that we were in for another excellent evening – and yep, so it turned out. This latest version of the Baroness Orczy literary classic isn’t quite like any we’ve seen before, with a cast of just five brave souls taking on a multitude of characters, with a minimum of props and sets. And yet, once again, the egg has struck gold with a wonderful piece of funny and fabulous family theatre.
Before the tale has even got underway, characters appear among the audience to ask about our expectations for the upcoming executions by guillotine, as well as warnings to look out for the splattering blood. However, there’s no need to worry, the only sign of anything gruesome was a couple of low-flying poodles and a fair amount of swashbuckling.
The plot follows Sir Percy and his team of do-gooders as they travel to France to save the Count, dogged along the way by the evil Chauvelin and his band of revolutionaries, all intent on bringing more royalists to a sticky end. The French accents may be are more Allo Allo than La Bohéme, while the plot is vaguely bonkers, and that’s the fun. The play has already been enjoyed by school trips and groups of adults alike, and its great appeal is that it is so entertaining for all ages – my wife and I were laughing just as loudly as our children.
My favourite funny moment? Well, there were a few, although I did giggle when Sir Andrew, on consulting his French dictionary, asks the audience, “What is the English for piscine?’ When he receives the answer ‘swimming pool’, he thinks about it, then responds, “Ah, no wonder they asked me to leave.”
Throughout, the cast from Pins & Needles Productions are superb, each taking on multiple roles with aplomb. There’s also the dancing – including some 18th century flossing – to deal with, a little singing (I loved Chauvelin’s song about his hatred of poodles!) and a fair amount of action thrown in for good measure.
It seems that every year the theatre-going audiences of Bath are offered an increasing number of wonderful looking Christmas productions, and every year each show has to work a little harder to entice the ticket buyers. The egg theatre, however, remains masterful at knowing exactly what works, staying away from the panto-style exploits on offer elsewhere and relying on its knack of securing the best small production around. And with the Scarlet Pimpernel, it has most certainly done it again.
The Scarlet Pimpernel runs at the egg theatre Bath until 13 January 2019. To book tickets, click here