The Messiah Review

Richmond Theatre, London – until Saturday 1 December 2018
Reviewed by Lisa Harlow
Welcome to the Christmas season! And what an entrée!
The Messiah, written and directed by Patrick Barlow, delivers a thoroughly enjoyable platter of dry humour, word play and occasional slapstick via a theatre troupe of two rather lost souls plus a quizzical opera singer.
The two actors intend to tell the tale of the Nativity with all its magic and mystery, allowing Maurice Rose (Hugh Dennis) and Ronald Bream (John Marquez) to channel their own search for wisdom from the mystical and the divine. The outcome is actually a mess of emotional breakdowns and public arguments, whilst the men work through their dynamic of power play and personal inadequacies. It leads to enlightenment of a sort: the embracing of the other, faults, confessions and all. Perhaps this is the true Christmas message?
Dennis is adept at playing this pompous, unaligned and uncharismatic actor keen to share his spiritual merits and ego throughout the play. The wonderful Marquez performs in more of a school pantomime style, weaving regular references to modern life into this ancient story without a flicker of understanding as to the audience’s cackling response. His more simple, down trodden approach bursts into a more anarchic flurry once his true feelings about Maurice Rose come forth. Through audience interaction and skittish behaviour, there is very nearly a stage coup d’etat.
Marquez captures the audience’s attention throughout, and his disastrous attempts to rejoin the spinning set as one of the Three Kings absolutely sets me off. Leslie Garrett as Mrs Leonora Fflyte provides a great counterbalance to the shambles on stage through her operatic outbursts and attempts to reign the show back into control.
This show delivers a warm glow generated from its lighthearted fun and clever writing. Garrett, Dennis and Marquez certainly perform it to its highest reach.