Gills Around The Green – Sir John Mills Theatre

Eastern Angles can always be relied on to turn the traditional Christmas show on its head and, on this occasion, it’s a case of ‘In Cod We Trust’. Gills Around The Green, Julian Harries’ and Pat Whymark’s 12th festive offering for Eastern Angles is a fishy affair.

It’s the usual surreal offering so any attempt to summarise the plot is predictably difficult. Suffice to say a young sales rep dreams of becoming super hero Aqua Boy, a mad scientist has plans for human/fish hybrids and, given the current wintery blast, a highly topical story line about being stuck in a snow drift all combine to give a vision of 30,000 years in the future. Add in some knowing references to a plethora of sci-fi films, local references, audience participation and some over the top characters and it descends into comedic chaos.

Madcap doesn’t quite cover it. Jokes come thick and fast and, yes, they may stink as badly as the fish of the plot, but this is a show with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek.

At times it does seem like it’s trying too hard to cram in the required amount of jokes per minute and some look at structure may aid the flow at times. Perhaps that is intentional; after all, Gills Around The Green is meant to be rough around the edges and chaotic – a bit like the enfant terrible of Pantoland.

Playing a multitude of ridiculous characters, the company – Julian Harries (also directing), Nicholas Agnew, Kai Simmons, Holly Ashton, and Rose Van Hooff work well together although, at times, they do seem unsure of the piece.

Given the small space of the Sir John Mills there are, surprisingly, some projection issues that lose some of the fast-paced script and a couple of first night issues should hopefully be ironed out during the run.

With more time to settle into the roles and some tightening of some scene transitions, Gills Around The Green provides an antidote to the saccharin sweetness of traditional panto.

Picture: Nicholas Agnew in Gills Around The Green.Photo Mike Kwasniak

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