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Review: Red Rose Chain's Magic Fishbone delivers laugh-out-loud cracker

PUBLISHED: 13:20 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:20 09 December 2019

Genevieve Clarke and Ailis Duff in Red Rose Chain's sparkling Christmas show The Magic Fishbone by Joanna Carrick. Photo: Bill Jackson

Genevieve Clarke and Ailis Duff in Red Rose Chain's sparkling Christmas show The Magic Fishbone by Joanna Carrick. Photo: Bill Jackson

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Review: The Magic Fishbone, by Joanna Carrick, Red Rose Chain, Avenue Theatre, until December 31

Genevieve Clarke, Matt Penson and Ailis Duff in Red Rose Chain's sparkling Christmas show The Magic Fishbone by Joanna Carrick. Photo: Bill JacksonGenevieve Clarke, Matt Penson and Ailis Duff in Red Rose Chain's sparkling Christmas show The Magic Fishbone by Joanna Carrick. Photo: Bill Jackson

Red Rose Chain delivers a Christmas cracker indeed with this witty, clever production and every minute of it is hugely enjoyable.

A family on their uppers in Victorian London are close to the edge of disaster and debtors prison. Alicia, who may be poor, but rich in imagination finds escape in her attic and dolls house whilst the chaos of impending poverty swirls around her. But as she says, "we must hope that something turns up" and of course, thankfully it does.

Jo Carrick's adaptation of this short story by Charles Dickens is full of charm, warmth and hope. The impact of homelessness and poverty is present in the play and how it effects children especially feels timely and urgent.

Genevieve Clarke, Matt Penson and Ailis Duff in Red Rose Chain's sparkling Christmas show The Magic Fishbone by Joanna Carrick. Photo: Bill JacksonGenevieve Clarke, Matt Penson and Ailis Duff in Red Rose Chain's sparkling Christmas show The Magic Fishbone by Joanna Carrick. Photo: Bill Jackson

The cast deftly and skilfully switch between characters, are puppeteers, sing, and Alis Duff Watkins gives us a rousing turn on the spoons. The pace of the show is carefully timed, not break neck or in-your-face which does a huge justice to the story and gives emphasis and clarity in all the right places.

The younger members of the audience were enchanted by this magical show and help our heroine, Alicia, out enormously. There is an intimacy between audience and action and Genevieve Clarke creates a character that connects with the audience in a natural way. We feel like we are with her in the attic. Matt Penson as Percy Pickles, the fish monger's nephew doubles up, most brilliantly, as Mrs Flancrust the cook. When her romance with Ailis Duff Watkins' Mr Mackrel bursts into life at the start of the second act it is electric and joyously laugh out loud hilarious.

Go and see this. It is a superb show for all ages and highly recommended.

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