One Million Tiny Plays About Britain by Craig Taylor. Jermyn Street Theatre, London SW1 to 11 January 2020. 4****. William Russell.

One Million Tiny Plays About Britain
By Craig Taylor.
Jermyn Street Theatre, 16b Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6ST to 11 January 2020.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm.Mat Tues & Sat 3.30pm
Runs 2hr One interval.
TIUCKETS: 0207287 2875
Review: William Russell 6 December
All I want for Christmas is a Christmas show that is not a pantomime stuffed with television stars or Scrooge yet again. Dickens has a lot to answer for by creating a role every ham thespian loves to attempt come this time of year when really they should accept that the late and great Alistair Sim nailed it once and for all. So four stars to Jermyn Street for coming up with something completely different with this two person show featuring Taylor’s vignettes which used to appear in the Guardian on Saturdays. They are the sort of thing one hears when eavesdropping on public transport, in cafes and in doctors’ or dentists’ waiting rooms, delightful in print but when translated to the stage much depends on the players and the order in which they are disclosed.
Emma Barclay and Alex Nicholls, who perform them, deliver a series of delightful comic turns which involve a bewildering number of changes of costume and sex. The result is a master class in quick change and comic virtuosity. I am not quite sure about the bingo hall setting or about getting the audience in act two to play bingo, but at Christmas such participation is obligatory and at least I dropped my bingo card and could not pick it up. Also the promised prize, won by my neighbour, turned out to be something as unexpected as any of the tales.
Produced in association with the Watermill Theatre this really is a cracker of a show – tedious seasonal reference – and if you do not recognise your friends, relations, enemies and stranger you have seen in public places in Taylor’s bundle of tiny tales – not quite a million to tell the truth – then you have been going through life with eyes and ears, above all ears, shut. Barclay and Nicholls – it sounds like a variety act – make a splendid pair and are blessed with the sort of features that seem completely malleable so that one minute she is sexy, another anything but, one minute he is as butch as can be, the next playing a bedraggled lady having romantic problems. Just how they remember what costume to wear is anybody’s guess, but either something is ripped briskly off – costume designer Cecil Calf must be a mistress of Velcro – to reveal what is underneath or they exit and return in a flash in yet another outfit.
Cast – Emma Barclay & Alec Nicholls.
Director: Laura Keefe.
Set & Costume Designer: Ceci Calf.
Lighting Designer: Sherry Coenen.
Sound Designer: Harry Linden Johnson. .
Photographer: Robert Workman.

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