Rave Reviews & Your Comments for The Fenland Screamers...

11 December 2018

The Fenland Screamers & Other Boggy Tales opened last week at the Sir John Mills Theatre to rave reviews and audience feedback! We've shared your comments below along with the full reviews from the East Anglian Daily Times, Ipswich24 Magazine and the British Theatre Guide.

EAST ANGLIAN DAILY TIMES Review by Andrew Clarke: 

Eastern Angles celebrates the 30th anniversary of their Christmas show with a brilliantly funny pastiche of H Rider Haggard’s She and the derring-do adventures of English upper-class ‘chaps’ and their ‘gels’ which were so popular in the 1920s and 30s.

Written and directed by Eastern Angles stalwarts Julian Harries and Pat Whymark, writers of the bulk of the Christmas shows, masters of the parody and lovers of the surreal, it is fitting that they have delivered a new masterpiece to celebrate this seasonal milestone.

Like the 2008 show The Haunted Commode, this latest show is a portmanteau collection of bizarre tales of suspense and horror told (and enacted as flashbacks) by party-goers trapped in an isolated manor house situated in the wilds of the Cambridgeshire Fens.

The guests have been invited to the house by a mysterious host who known of them know. They are greeted by a slightly strange butler called Tangent who disappears after warning them about mysterious goings-on in the boggy regions of the Fen.

Harries and Whymark keep the pace going at a dizzying pace, throwing one laugh after another at the audience, bombarding them with both double and single entendres as well as a succession of surreal sight-gags.

The cast, a mix of old-hands and new faces, know the importance of playing this madness with a straight face but you are left in no doubt that they are having the time of their lives and this infectious enthusiasm feeds itself to the audience.

Joe Leat and Eloise Kay are Sloppy and Sixpence, two twenties twits who don’t realise they are in love, while Geri Allen is fashion designer Purdita, James MacNaughton is washed up adventurer Flippersby and Anthony Pinnick is Tangent, the butler with the spasm.

Songs by Pat Whymark add to the hilarity and are brilliantly delivered by the cast and the evening seems to disappear in a laughter-filled flash. It is the mixture of inventiveness, silliness and the feeling of a shared experience that makes the Eastern Angles Christmas Shows so special.

After 30 years they still feel as fresh as they did when they were first unveiled in 1988. They are a brilliant alternative to a pantomime and long may they continue. Hilariously life-affirming, but watch out for the Screamers!

IPSWICH24 MAGAZINE Review, by Wendy Cook

It’s madcap, full of action, an incredible amount of costume changes and thoroughly enjoyable… Yes, it’s another festive offering from Eastern Angles!

This year writers Pat Whymark and Julian Harris take the audience to a boggy fen in Cambrigeshire with their production The Fenland Screamers, and Other Boggy Tales.

A group of strangers arrive at a remote country mansion on the edge of the Fens, all invited there, by a man they can’t quite place, but lured by the promise of a lavish weekend party. But all is not what it seems… The host is nowhere to be found, the butler is acting rather strangely, and there’s an odd screaming sound coming from the wetlands surrounding the house.

With a sense of unease, and unable to leave as a heavy fog falls across the fenland, the guests decide to stay together and wait for morning, passing the time by telling their own stories. But what connects the group? Who asked them to come and why? And, will they fall victim to the Fenland Screamers?

The Fenland Screamers is hilariously funny. The brilliantly talented cast bring the story to life in such a clever way. The action is fast paced and full quick-witted innuendos, catchy musical numbers and a little audience participation.

A refreshing change from the usual festive offering in theatres at this time of the year The Fenland Screamers and Other Boggy Tales is well worth a watch. A brilliant piece of theatre, with an eccentric storyline that all just seems to come together and work – We loved it!

BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE Review, by Suzanne Hawkes

If you want a show that’s completely mad, surreal, very, very weird but extremely cleverly written and a laugh a minute then you could do no better than Eastern Angles latest Christmas offering.

This year marks their 30th anniversary of the Christmas show; some of them have been classics, some have somewhat missed the mark. This year with writing team Julian Harries and Pat Whymark back firmly in place and a very talented cast to try and make sense of their wacky script, this is once again Eastern Angles Christmas alternative to panto back to its bonkers best.

Taking inspiration from the 1970s British horror films genre but set in the 1920s of Agatha Christie territory, the basic plot hangs on a group of four strangers who are lured to a dark lonely house on the Fens and then have to spend the night telling each other stories to keep the ghoulies at bay. The stories are told by each main character in turn—each more surreal than the last—until at the end the link to them all is revealed.

The hard working cast of Joe Leat, Eloise Kay, Anthony Pinnick, James Mcnaughton and Geri Allen play a multitude of parts in stranger and stranger costumes, performing quick changes in the blink of an eye while singing, dancing and playing instruments and trying to keep up with the twist and turns of a script that must have been written under the influence of something!

The humour is at times cheesy, at others bizarre, as are the characters and costumes, but it’s all very, very funny. It’s also directed by Pat and Julian who get the most out of the script and the physical gags.

To my knowledge, it’s the first of these shows that is firmly rooted in only the Fens / Cambridgeshire and not to interchange references depending on where it's being performed—but we’re near enough linked to get the references. It’s all extremely fast-paced so there’s no time to get bored or fail to suspend disbelief. And you get punch and mince pies in the interval, so what’s not to like?

A brilliant evening’s entertainment—a must-see if you want a really good laugh, a general cheering up or an antidote to the interminable Brexit.

The Fenland Screamers runs in Ipswich until 5th January and then tours to Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge from 9th-19th January and finishes at the Key Theatre Studio in Peterborough from 22nd-26th January. Book tickets here