Review Matthew Taylor
Downstairs in the MADCAP concourse it is 1887, and it is Christmas. Genuflecting servants serve mulled wine and mince pies. Polite parlour music tinkles in the background. Yes indeed… Pepper’s Ghost have taken us right back to the reign of Queen Vic! MADCAP is the ideal place for this of course, being almost Victorian itself, but there’s something in the air, too. Maybe it’s the dust off of all these side-whiskers.
After some mingling with the Victorians they have found themselves among – (the set-up of the evening is that the actors (in full costume and rig, very impressive) stay in character as historical figures of note) – the audience are ushered upstairs for a very rare thing indeed… an audience with Queen Victoria herself! Both the gen pub and the characters seemed in awe of the powerful presence of Her Majesty, whose measured regal tones filled the space as she discussed her life and her love.
Once this weighty speech was complete, the Queen deigned to answer questions from the assembled throng. To begin with, the characters were almost TOO in awe of her, but after an extremely engaging poem (“Dover Beach”) from Matthew Arnold (Bill Handley) warmed the atmosphere they all seemed to get a little braver with their queries. Oscar Wilde even verged upon cheek a couple of times, though Her Maj was well able to put him back in his place. From my slightly obscured vantage point behind the rake (us lower classes have to remain below stairs!) the set looked impressive too.
Overall a fascinating idea – halfway between some kind of historical improv and a prepared play, and a paradigm example of my old favourite, Edutainment™. As ever, Pepper’s Ghost are not scared to attempt something different – and from what I saw, they managed to pull it off! God bless us every one!