'Rich in atmosphere and theatrical delights,' Michael Cox reviews the latest production by Vox Motus.
Vox Motus is well known for their great theatrical flourishes, so the idea of them tackling Victorian séances is a rather delicious prospect. Some of their past productions, heavy in great special effects, lacked a bit of substance in terms of character or plot; so playwright Peter Arnott’s involvement can only be seen as a good thing.
The end result is a production that is great fun. The Infamous Brothers Davenport does have its flaws (including a few forgivable technical hiccups on the press night), but it is rich in atmosphere and theatrical delights.
The play bounces back and forth between two storylines. The brothers, Ira and Willie Davenport, are in the middle of a presentation of their spirit-conjuring abilities to an invited audience. This performance is punctuated by flashbacks to their native America with scenes depicting their life.
If the production has a flaw, it is in this back-and-forth motif. While each track is interesting, neither is allowed to be fully fleshed out, resulting in both sides feeling a bit short changed.
However, the production has a few strengths on its side. Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison prove once again that they know how to make spectacle, and Brothers has some real stunning moments. To even hint at what they are would be unfair, but any fan of magic will be familiar with many of the tricks, and most of them are well-performed. Though the script’s plot might be on the shallow side, it is still filled with interesting characters and some clever lines. Musicians Jed Milroy and Phamie Gow also give great live accompaniment with a haunting and original score that fully compliments the performance.
The real ace up the production’s sleeve is in its cast. Kirsty Stuart has some fine moments as Katy while Anita Vettesse impresses in the dual roles of Lady Noyes-Woodhull and Mama. Gavin Mitchell is an absolute delight as Mr Fay and rather frightening as Papa (whether his is a dual role or a single character is only revealed at the end). The real coup, however, is in the casting of brothers Ryan and Scott Fletcher as Ira and Willie. Each plays his role well, but together they have a partnership and familiarity that not only enhances the whole production but is a pleasure in and of itself to watch.
The Infamous Brothers Davenport is at the Royal Lyceum until February 11 before touring to the Citizens and Eden Court.