Love in a Maze

Wed 30th November – Fri 2nd December 2016

reviews

Clare Cavenagh

at 17:12 on 1st Dec 2016

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The Panto may be soaking up all the ADC-attention at the moment, but lurking behind the glitz and glamour of the Footlights Christmas extravaganza, hiding discreetly at 11pm is an absolute gem of a show. You haven't got any pressing deadlines anymore, so there's no excuse not to go and see Love in a Maze.

This show is something of a strange beast. It's tagline, 'mostly the sex', is absolutely right, which makes the initial appearance of a group of nuns in habits somewhat jarring. The audience is soon launched into the story, and the story within the story. A woman, Ginny (Ellie Cole) has arrived in the convent, seeking to begin her novitiate and to escape from a terrible sin - she has lain with a man. Twice.

Much to Ginny's shock, the nuns take her little dalliance in their stride, and indeed respond to her story with one of their own. They launch into a suspiciously well-rehearsed dramatisation of the past life of the mother superior (Kathryn Cussons). Their tale is a hilarious and wonderful tapestry of farce, sexual punning, masterful disguise and approximate accent-imitation.

If you've seen the film Down With Love (Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, an absolute cracker) and enjoyed it, then you'll love this. Love in a Maze is hilarious from beginning to end, with puns and one-lines coming so thick and fast there's barely time to notice them before the next one comes along. It's also a triumph in that the longer you watch, the more enjoyable and heart-warming this play becomes. As the characters close in on their all-too-neat, farcical ending, the play becomes a delightful game, everyone playing off against everyone else with a high degree of skill and panache.

The cast of this show put in a magnificent effort and contributed much to the charm of the play. Cussons did a brilliant job giving the mother superior Fantomina continuity even as she changed and grew, and was hilarious to watch too. Simon West did a fantastic job as Sister Mildred as well as the attractive cad Hugo, and Eimear Dooley was a great contrast to him as Tristan, his more down-to-earth friend. In spite of a couple of moments of uncertainty, and a little bit of over-the-top acting (intentional, I'm sure, since it took place during the play-within-a-play) the cast were great, exhibiting much comic talent.

The audience were not numerous for the opening night of Love in a Maze, and I'm sure you have your excuses: the panto, the end of term, final bits of supervision work, but it would be a great shame for numbers to stay down over the course of this show. You can't do much better for an hour of laughs, so now the pressure's off, go along and see it.

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