The Gin Chronicles: A Scottish Adventure – Old Joint Stock, Birmingham

Writer: Robert Blackwood

Directors: Robert Blackwood and Anthony Shrubshall

Reviewer: John Kennedy

Mystery/suspense/espionage! The Misfits Of London broadcast their very own subtle-as-a-blind-cobbler’s-thumb homage to the Dashiell Hammett/John Buchan late-1940s live radio show thriller genre. Imagine commercial hell inflicted upon the BBC in relentless pursuit of infiltrated plot product placement – try even harder not to.

Wry, fly and unabashedly self-referencingly sly, this ensemble of frightfully dashing young gels and chaps sausage-machine every available cliché, pun and tortured trope with dash, panache and evidently sound-effects with limited production cash: the last, a near unparalleled constant source of sonic physical theatre delight recalling The Goon Show or The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

The risks are high, the very fabric of post-war Britain democracy is at stake. Those filthy fifth-column never-say-die times zwei Nazi bounders are plotting to appropriate the entire cache of Blighty’s juniper berry crop – on Burns night – in Castle Macbeth. The listening nation are riveted to their seats (they would have rushed to the outside loo long before otherwise) radiogram valves glow near red-hot in anticipated rage – the acrid whiff of heated bakelite speakers pervades the Home Counties antimacassar lounges as the Flying Scotsman races across the Berwick-upon-Tweed bridge arches. Telegraphed clues, stinking red-herring decoys and a panoply of sound-effects celebrate decades of BBC coconut horse-shoe clip-clops and swanny-whistle whoops-a-daisies.

With the heritage of Round The Horn to Hamish & Dougal’s dubious derring-dos and contrived, fruity innuendos to wring through Monday morning wash scullery mangles, The Misfits Of London exploit, extrapolate and decimate any and all plot contrivances with ham-dram swashbuckling delight. Howling one-liners are dispensed with alarming alacrity – ‘Now there’s a door so small only a mouse with opposable thumbs could negotiate/I think those antlers need trimming.’ No bagpipes were allowed to cause harm in the making of this production.

Runs until 28 January 2018 | Image: Contributed

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