Writers: Le Navet Bete
Director: Mark Laville
Award-winning University of Plymouth theatre studies graduates Dan Bianchi, Matt Freeman, Al Dunn and Nick Bunt return, by popular demand, to The Barbican with their madcap version of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Now based in Exeter, Le Navet Bete is a touring physical comedy male quartet whose wacky antics ensure that two plus hours evaporate in a click of green sparkly heels.
A simple set, a simple mindset and manic moments provoke plenty of fun and audience participation.
Bunt is a somewhat hirsute, low-slung Dorothy, nicely paced and aptly irritating with a determination to return to Kansas in time for the congregational. Toting Toto and sequin slippers s/he follows a rocky Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City collecting friends and belief en route.
Bianchi’s luvvie lion searching for the courage to audition for old Simba is wonderfully louche while Radio Devon’s Gordon Sparks makes a special, ethereal, appearance as a petulant Green Army-barmy Wizard. Dunn, who channels his inner Russian as a heartless Tin Man, is beautifully bonkers as OIC of the flying monkeys marshalling a ragtag troop picked from the audience, and beguiles as gliding Glinda.
Rubber-faced, loose-limbed Freeman’s chaotic capers as the brainless scarecrow and flashing melty wicked witch are particularly slapstick and encapsulates the joie de vivre this company exudes.
Add Riverdance, mountaineering, rollerskates, flashing trainers, a foot spa and music for a really entertaining evening for all the family. Good wholesome(ish) fun.
Reviewed on 16 October 2016 then ends tour in Newbury | Image: Le Navet Bete