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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

Eat it up: Mumburger @ORLTheatre

If barbecues and eating bring people together, Mumburger takes it to a new level in dealing with death and loss. Currently playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre  Sarah Kosar's take on death, family and meat is funny and thought-provoking. And a little off-putting if you're squeamish.

Mum's dead. She got hit by a truck on the M25. The two people she left behind - a father and daughter are grieving. There are the usual funeral plans and picking up relatives from the airport. But there is also the arrival of a brown package of meat patties to deal with.

Did their mum arrange for them to be delivered on her death, knowing full well that unlike her they were only part-time vegetarians? Or are they symbolic of something more? 

Rosie Wyatt and Andrew Frame as the grieving father and daughter make the surreal believable. She recites poetry and he reminisces about a film from the nineties. Both are lost but connect over a love for barbecued food. 

And there is some on-stage cooking. The smell of burnt meat wafts through the intimate space of the Old Red Lion Theatre. Two burgers are cooked with a blow torch. Vegans (or burger lovers who have come to the theatre on an empty stomach) beware.

The choice to have live blowtorched burgers tends to distract from the text. Instead of focussing on the action you keeping thinking, "Surely they aren't going to eat that?" 

Perhaps a more mundane setting such as a kitchen might have been better. But with observations on the ubiquity of social media, online footage and mass entertainment, there's enough food for thought here in Kosar's text, and combined with some slick projections, gives the piece its impact. 

Directed by Tommo Fowler, Mumburger is at the Old Red Lion Theatre until 22 July. 


Photos by Lidia Crisafulli

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