Houdini’s Greatest Escape At Royal & Derngate, Northampton


Reviewed by Janine Rumble

Last night, I had the great pleasure of watching one of the funniest shows I had seen in a long time. The audience and I were in stitches throughout at the escapades of Harry Houdini, his wife Bess and a host of other characters, all played by only four cast members. The humour was laugh out loud, crazy, chaotic, anarchic, slapstick and very of the time of when the play was set…the 1920s.

Houdini’s Greatest Escape is a New Old Friends production in association with Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, written and directed by Feargus Woods Dunlop.

The show tells the story of the great magician and escapologist, Harry Houdini and his plans to become apart of the King’s Gala, but his plans are thwarted by a gang of crooks, corrupt police and Agatha, a spiritualist when he is framed for a crime. Throughout the show, he is helped by his wife Bess and his brother Theo and helped and hindered by a whole host of others, including an elephant!!! Will he be sent down, or will he be vindicated? The only way to find out is watch the show.

The cast of four were amazing and made each of the characters they played so believable. Ben Higgins was great as Harry Houdini, what an accent too! Lydia Piechowiak played his clever and supportive wife Bess. Their on-stage chemistry was brilliant to see and they were so believable and their magic tricks were astounding, making you sit there and say, ‘how did they do that?’ Kirsty Cox plays seven different characters throughout the show, with much hilarity. Her characters range from the leader of a gang of crooks to Agatha, the spiritualist. My favourite characters, she portrayed, were the clown and Nelly (the elephant) – you have to see it to believe it! Each of her characters were so believable and you either loved or hated them in equal measures. My favourite performer by far was Adam Elliott, who played eleven different characters, four of them on stage at the same hilarious, exhausting time. It was without doubt, the maddest few minutes on stage I had ever seen and I was amazed at how he had the energy to perform in this high octane, chaotic way throughout the whole show without losing energy. His portrayal of the very inebriated Chief Doyle (the chief of police) was hysterical. Adam was just brilliant. I would recommend seeing the show, just for him and his portrayal of all his characters.

The stage was very simple and very cleverly used to show all the different settings, and brought about its own hilarity, rolling trees and all. For most of it, the stage was the velvet curtains of a theatre, with bright lights surrounding it, these were used to great effect to show different settings, depending on which curtain was lifted. The train scene was very cleverly done with the use of puppet bodies attached to the actors’ heads-so strange, but it worked so well.

All in all, it was a great show, with great slapstick and great illusions and great actors. I give this show a side splitting 5 out of 5 stars. Great fun!

Houdini’s Greatest Escape is on all over the country until May and I highly recommend going to watch the show, it is a great night out. For more details, please follow the link:

Rating: 5/5

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