Eastern Angles Christmas cracker

The Haunted Commode, created by Julian Harries and Pat Whymark, Eastern Angles, Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich until January 11 and Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge January 13-24

Lynne Mortimer

The Haunted Commode, created by Julian Harries and Pat Whymark, Eastern Angles, Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich until January 11 and Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge January 13-24

IT'S Christmas.

The moment you see Julian Harries fling on his piano accordion you can't help feeling festive.


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Yes, it's the Eastern Angles Christmas show, combining a fabulous cast of five with wit, energy, almost imperceptibly quick costume changes, puppets, musical fun and a magnificent dollop of comedy anarchy.

There are a feast of delicious references to enjoy in this crazy and inventive show that evokes an earlier era of eerie films and classic horrors.

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The Haunted Commode - such an evocative title and with so many comic possibilities, all of them thoroughly explored - is the first of four spookily hilarious stories.

Three rail passengers find themselves stranded at Hadesworth station with a local taxi driver and a benign station master. To pass the time, four of them relate their strange tales of love and fortunes won and lost, interwoven with sorcery, ancient mysticism and ghastly practices.

Julian Harries is in roguish top form as, among others, a foppish aristocrat with an unfortunate speech affectation and a German archaeologist.

Between them, Tracy Elster and Louise Shuttleworth take on a range of independently-minded women with enormous gusto; Simon Nock is an amazing Brummie avenging imp and Nicholas Agnew's Professor Trimble is endearingly innocent but, as the sinister twins Marmaduke and Hazlitt, Nock and Agnew are truly unforgettable.

In the telling of these yarns, no pun is left unturned, no double entendre discarded and the audience is led willingly to the laughter. The sparkling script is delivered at a cracking pace by the five perpetrators of mirth who are aided and abetted by the props - particular honours go to the carousel horses and palm trees.

With cunningly devised plot twists and surprises, The Haunted Commode is riotously entertaining - you'd be potty to miss it.

Lynne Mortimer

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