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A CurtainUp London Review
Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness
Like some of Neilson's more recent work, Edward Gant starts spectacularly but finishes with a whimper. The setting is perfect: a wooden Victorian proscenium arch with wonderful decorated writing and ornate carved extremities, mysterious heavy curtains covering two doors either side of the stage for entrances and exits. Simon Kunz is Edward Gant, the top hatted, caped and moustached Master of Ceremonies, who will also pop up in a few bit roles in his amazing tales.
Three other actors form his troupe. Madame Poulet (Emma Handy) so called for her previous stage career when she simulated the ability to lay an egg, "Little" Nicky Ludd (Paul Barnhill) a child star known for his impersonation of a Highland Lassie and a survivor, alongside Edward Gant, of the Charge of the Light Brigade, Sgt Jack Dearlove (Sam Cox) whose continued devotion to Edward Gant dates back to the days of a previous entertainment, Edward Gant's Midget Opera. These précised notes from the script give you an idea of the style of the evening.
The first story is truly remarkable: about two sisters one of whom Sanzonetta Tutti, (Madame Poulet) is cursed with frightening acne and the other of whom, Campanetti Tutti (Nicholas Ludd) is truly lovely to look at. Salvatore Avaricci (Jack Dearlove) is their suitor, first of Sanzonetta then of Campanetti. However Avaricci being a great collector of pearls is persuaded to change his affection to Sanzonetta when he discovers, despite her hideous complexion, that she produces from each chawb or zit crater, a perfect pearl. Avaricci as a pearl collector falls for this jewel of a sister. The denouement is not for the faint hearted and now I fully understand why Rupert Goold was advising friends in the audience to sit as far back as possible!
The second tale goes to Nepal to the mysteries of the Himalayas and involves an opium den and a gentlemen's club in Rangoon and is the tragic romance of Edgar Thomas Dawn (Jack Dearlove) and his sweetheart Louisa Von Kettelmein-Kurstein Frond (Madame Poulet). The final tale of theatrical touring teddy bears made me wish I had had several stiff drinks before the commencement of this showcase.
Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness is mostly great fun for those of an indelicate disposition and is sure to frighten the ladies and the horses. The staging is very effective as the grossest close up display of facial acne ripe with cheese pops out of apertures at the side of the stage. You have been warned!
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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