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Merrie Hell – Soho Theatre, London

Writers: David Hoyle &Richard Thomas

Director: Gary Reich

Reviewer: Deborah Klayman

[rating:4]

Brash, acerbic and darkly comic, this is an alternative Christmas show with bite.Co-created and performed by Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer The Opera) and David Hoyle (aka The Divine David), Merrie Hell was always going to have a sting in the tail, and the dynamic duo certainly did not disappoint.

Chock full of irreverent humour and shot through with poignant moments, the piece melds David’s uncomfortable relationship with the festive season and his singular world view. Delivered through a mix of deadpan dialogue and dextrous ditties this is a production that pulls no punches, touching on subjects such as the recent BBC abuse scandal, mental health, drug addiction and death. Despite this heavy subject matter Thomas’ upbeat persona tempers Hoyle’s darker leanings and there are some genuinely hilarious moments, particularly when Hoyle is unleashed upon the unsuspecting members of the audience – the girl who offered to share her boyfriend with David was truly in a charitable mood!

Along with the songs and witty repartee there are some extra delights, including Hoyle’s idea of interpretive dance and a superb song sheet backed by the dulcet tones of the Pink Singers (Europe’s longest-established LGBT choir). Although rough around the edges the production has some really meaningful moments, with the ballad Crying at Christmas hitting all the right notes, being both heartfelt and legitimately moving. In all his grim and glam glory David is truly Divine, and with Thomas bringing his prodigious musical talent to the table this is proof positive that two wrongs can sometimes make a right.

Runs until 5th January

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