The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) @ The Spring, Havant

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The Bible, Holy Scripture, eternal bestseller and sourcematerial for musicals, Hollywood blockbusters and many, many comedians. It’s abig book to cram into two hours and even more of a challenge when you only have three actors to work with… but as always Humdrum step up to take on the challenge.

Some reading this will have been at The Spring in Havant when Humdrum took on the complete works of Shakespeare. An intrepid trio of performers wrestled the Bard’s back catalogue into one evening of fun and now they’re doing the same with the Bible.

As the lights dim a suitably epic soundtrack and booming voiceover lead into proceedings and immediately we hope the wardrobe budget runs to more than just fig leaves! Thankfully our fears are assuaged as the cast don biblical robes and immediately launch into the funniest, silliest and most entertaining two hours we’re likely to spend in a theatre for some time.

This is, of course, a staple show in the Reduced Shakespeare Company repertoire, but given to British performers who have their own take on the script and their own performing style it becomes a very different beast.

It’s clear early on that each performer has a fairly defined role in proceedings. James George acts as the straight-man and the fulcrum, Darren Gilmore is the rash, loud and showy performer, while Mikey Palmer will generally be the one in women’s clothing.  Between them we meet everyone from Abraham to Zachariah, by way of the likes of Goliath and Salome. Oh, and Jesus… they all play Jesus. At the same time.

We find out the commandments Moses convinced God to leave out… and we get shot with super-soakers as he parts the red sea. We meet Noah on his ark and half the audience end up on stage as animals (including a stunning trout impression!) and we even take our place at the last supper as numerous questions are answered, not least “why are all the apostles sat on one side of the table?”!

Sam Sampson had the unenviable task of corralling the insanity but wisely seems to have let the show grow organically and just steer it in the right direction. He plays to his performer’s strengths, George wrestles with tongue-twisting lists of biblical verse, Darren consistently tries to one-up his colleagues and Mikey delivers some fantastic double takes. He also performs the dance of the seven veils.

Did we mention Mikey has a beard? It gives Salome, Mary, Eve and more a whole new dimension…

We could go on listing the laughs, the silliness and the brilliance of the show, but we wouldn’t want to embarrass this humble “award winning” cast. So just hope and pray that they return to The Spring soon and take us through the oeuvre of the RSC once again!

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Matt

Matt has been writing on all manner of subjects for over 15 years. He has written for a number of music magazines, made appearances on BBC Introducing and regularly contributed to local newspapers. These days he mostly writes about theatre, but also enjoys covering sport, especially rugby.

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