Review: The Curse of Elizabeth Faulkner
From Edinburgh Fringe to London's West End... but something got lost on the train down.
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This gothic farce comes to the Charing Cross Theatre direct from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was probably more at home and possibly ought to have stayed.
A well-to-do young Edwardian gent, James Faulkner seeks out the assistance of a put-upon undertaker, Reginald Thorndike, to dig up the corpse of his grandmother in an attempt to rid himself of a long-standing family curse. This leads to a farcical journey across England as the pair attempt to defeat the forces of darkness. Neil Henry as Thorndike brings to life the custodian of the dead with delightfully disquieted deportment, demonstrating a firm grasp of comic conventions. Our dynamic duo are rather let down, however, by a pedestrian performance from Josh Haberfield as Faulkner that mostly relies upon corny cliché and some seriously over milked mummery. And a wandering accent that we were unable to pinpoint precisely.
The whole piece feels like something cobbled together by an undergraduate drama society who’ve overdosed on The League of Gentlemen. The gags come thick and fast, but with an only about thirty percent hit rate, it’s rather a case of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.
But it’s not all bad. There’s superb support from Anil Desai and Harriette Sym in a variety of smaller parts. They both stand out as performers who really know what they’re doing, and between them provide most of the big laughs of the evening.
The show is only an hour long, and doesn’t start until 10pm, so if you fancy a theatrical interlude between the bar and the club, it’s *possible* that you might be amused by this preposterous pot-boiler of spooks and spectres, provided you’ve slugged a fair few spirits yourself. The main bonus is that the theatre is situated directly opposite Heaven, the nightclub, underneath the arches in Charing Cross - so if the underworld abstraction of ghouls and graves doesn’t tickle your funny bone, you can always pop to the alternative afterlife next door and scream in a whole different way.
GT gives this 2/5
The Curse Of Elizabeth Faulkner runs at the Charing Cross Theatre until November 23rd. More details at: their website.
Words: Richard Unwin