Writer: Tom Sadler &Rob Castell
Director: Sarah Tipple
Reviewer: Marina Spark
Back for the fourth year running at The Drum theatre, Plymouth, award winning Barbershopera deliver yet another festive feast for the eyes and ears. This year’s offering is entitled El Matador – A Close Christmas Shave and is the perfect antidote to a bitterly cold winter’s night.
The story surrounds Esteve, a young, Spanish matador who is dragged away from his upcoming big bull fight in order to deal with the affairs of his recently deceased, estranged father. Of course, his father was from Norfolk, and Esteve journeys to this unknown land finding himself in his father’s hometown of Shavingham. What ensues is a fiercely clever, hilariously witty, comic romp that is sure to have you paso doble-ing out of the aisles. Tom Green, the writer, has once again proved himself to be at the forefront of satirical musical comedy.
There is much muli-rôleing throughout the show which demonstrates the varied abilities of the cast well, leaving the audience under the impression that they must be watching more than just four performers. Barbershopera are forerunners in the industry when it comes to demonstrating the strength of the ensemble and this year’s show is no different. The undeniable musical and acting skill that all the performers show is astounding but what makes this team very special is seeing that they trust each other implicitly throughout the show. This year’s cast is made up of the four associate artists of Barbershopera; Rob Castell, Lara Stubbs, Will Kenning and Pete Sorel-Cameron.
The direction from Sarah Tipple manages to convince the audience that they have been transported from place to place with the change of a hat. This is no mean feat. The Drum is a sizeable theatre and it is testament to the cast and director that at no time do you feel that the show is exposed by its lack of set and fancy props. In fact, these material things would be totally superfluous as the incredibly funny, and often touching, storytelling is all that is needed to make an unforgettable show.
If you see nothing else this Christmas make it El Matador – A Close Christmas Shave. It will definitely leave you wanting to see more from Barbershopera and with any luck the company will be gracing Plymouth with their presence for many Christmases to come. When compared with the usual yule time offering of a pantomime El Matador strides ahead. This show offers everything that is right with a pantomime and much, much more. With no smut and no bad language it is suitable for all ages, so treat your youngster to some truly astonishing and thoroughly inspiring theatre to aspire to.
Runs until 23rd December 2013