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Christmas Mysteries: A Sherlock Carol @MaryleboneTHLDN

A mash-up of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes would seem an unlikely pairing. Yet it provides a surprisingly fun Christmas-themed adventure. These two Victorian tales (albeit separated by about 40 years) provide the basis for an inspired adventure at Christmastime that just also happens to turn out to be a murder mystery as well. With lavish costumes, a few spooky set pieces and some good old-fashioned stage trickery with lights and a lot of smoke machines, it is hard to resist. It returns to the Marylebone Theatre for Christmas after a run there last year.  The premise is that after Holmes sees off the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, he is left adrift in London. People thought he was dead, and he might as well be. Disinterested in the misdeeds of other Londoners, Holmes has even given up on his friend Dr Watson. It's almost as if he has become a Scrooge. Or half a Scrooge, moping about shouting, "bah" in respon

Fringe: Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

I think crap musicals are best seen out of the West End. You don't feel as pissed off if you saw a show with a lousy book and score if you pay £12 as opposed to £50. I think this is a sensible position to take after seeing a very lively and energetic production Tuesday night of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at the Landor Theatre in Clapham North.

The musical (as it is written) is a bit of a dud. The songs aren't very good, there are enough hoary subplots in the first act so they don't have to worry about characterisation, and the whole show ends as a bit of a downer. For the movie version at least Dolly rewrote the final song. Still it is a musical about whores with hearts of gold so it is probably not worth getting too worked up about it. It's a very likeable show and this production was very entertaining and engaging. I guess that was because of the great cast and a production that has made the most of er what it is...

The Landor is a very small space. I arrived at the theatre pub late after the usual action-packed day in work and flopped down in front row seat just before it began. There are only three rows in the theatre anyway and regardless of where you sit, you are close to the stage. But it only dawned on me after rummaging around for my glasses that a woman wearing next to nothing was standing less than a metre away watching the whole thing with bemusement. Yikes I wasn't expecting that! Then I realised... I am at a musical about a whorehouse so I should expect some whores. Well the costumes must have been cheap to get since there wasn't much of them. The ladies playing whores weren't all petite little things either. Some of them were big-ass whores and boy when they started to sing you could sure as hell feel it. I won't even mention what it was like when they started to high kick.

Sitting in the front row made you feel a part of the production. With those high kicks, full frontal male nudity, dancers with their zippers down, actors sweat and odour it was just all so happening and overwhelming all of the senses. And just like the rest of the audience, I couldn't get enough of it. My only queries about the show are why did they make Suzie Chard (who played Miss Mona) look like Dolly Parton in drag? And who decided that Richard Swerrun (who played the camp investigative journalist) would be funnier with silly teeth? Perhaps these like many questions in fringe theatre (like why do you have unreserved seats?), are best left unanswered.

As a footnote I should probably get to the Landor more often, since it is only a ten minute walk away from where I live. The motivation this time was to see a show with the word "whore" in it as it is such a great word... Now if only their next show was called... Oh never mind...

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