This show is hilarious - no wind-up

10:00pm Thursday 28th May 2009

By Neil D'Arcy-Jones

THERE are Mercury Company shows and then there is Wagstaffe the Wind-Up Boy.

I have, in the past, been accused of liking pretty much every single company show there has ever been.

While this isn’t exactly true, I do have a soft-spot for certain actors and directors who come back regularly and make my job of reviewing very pleasant indeed.

Fortunately this production was full of them from actors Tim Treslove, Christine Absalom, David Tarkenter and Michael Thomson to director Janice Dunn, who is almost as much of a genius as the doctor that fixes Wagstaffe when he gets run over by a lorry.

But with this show even they surpassed themselves.

It is absolutely brilliant. From the very first hilarious dance routine to the Jacksons’ I Want You Back to the crash where Wagstaffe gets spectacularly flattened, literally. It’s a Loony Tunes cartoon, meets a Monty Python sketch-show coupled with a darkly magical Tim Burton film.

There are so many bits that stick out, I'm willing to bet if I went back – and believe me I'm going back – there will be loads more fun bits I didn’t catch the first time around.

The anarchic story follows a boy who is so horrid, his parents run away to the circus. To celebrate he fires eggs at lorries, gets run over, but in a fantastically inventive, and extremely funny scene he is put back together with springs, a clock and a hat-stand.

Now fixed, and with a key in his back to wind him up, Wagstaffe sets about rescuing his parents from the deliciously-evil circus master who is determined to send them over Niagara Falls.

I know what you’re thinking, how the Dickens do you stage a flight over the Niagara falls in a helicopter and a trip round the Isle of Wight on a pedalo?

Well you’ll just have to go along to find out – and take the kids. Mine thought it was more fun than a rollercoaster ride, which it is in a way.

Wagstaffe the Wind-Up Boy, Mercury Theatre, Colchester, until June 6. Tickets available from 01206 573948 or www.mecurytheatre.co.uk

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