Week two of Nightmare on Lime Street, and star of the show David Gest still hasn’t checked in with his paying public. The Royal Court, seemingly lacking a plan B, have handled the situation in an unusual way and chosen not to really acknowledge this on stage – so effectively, his understudy, Anthony Watson, is playing David Gest playing Frankenstein’s monster.
Perhaps I just didn’t get the joke, but this willingness to ignore the obvious was something of a theme of the show. Perhaps too much had been riding on charismatic Gest having the audience too busy eating out of his hand to notice.
Nightmare on Lime Street looked seriously good. Designer Mark Walters created a fantastic set that took in the station, an underground lair and the top of the Liver building in turn. Holby City’s Mark Moraghan is always great at hamming up a storm in these kind of situations, and didn’t disappoint as evil Dr Frankenstein; just as Michael Starke always delivers on stage as the loveable everyman, this time paranormal investigator Tommy. Armed with an arsenal of crap jokes, his enthusiastic performance gave the show a little sparkle.
Jamie Hampson proved exceptional as our heroine Julie, with a fantastic voice and abundance of charm – her duet of Up on the Roof was beautiful.
Fred Lawless’s Christmas shows at the Royal Court are usually especially good; warm, laugh-a-minute tales crammed full of gags and clever, lyrically adapted songs. This time, the numbers were just shoe-horned in pop songs, characters were not fleshed out, and the old way of working was missed – not least of all because the festive element was completely missing, which it hadn’t been in shows past.
Royal Court regulars Lindzi Germain and Lenny Wood, who both usually shine in whatever role they take on, were underused – again, possibly toning it down so David Gest could steal the show? Hopefully that is something audiences will get to experience in future, but if I had a ticket for later in the show’s run, I wouldn’t exactly be holding my breath. However, as it turns out, the show is in the safest hands it could be without him, anyway.
Picture by Dave Evans