Mommie and the Minister ****

Smirnoff Underbelly, 31 July – 24 August 2008

Reviewed for The List, issue 609

Gerard Anthony has created a monster. The titular Mommie of this Hammer Horror homage is part drag queen, part Methodist preacher, part Bride of Frankenstein. Anthony’s range runs from shrill unctuousness through pious browbeating all the way to sinister guttural Satan-zombie. He is the campest, most overblown feature of a play that’s clearly aiming to be the campest, most overblown thing at the Fringe.

Mommie keeps her children, Edmund and Harriet Lovely, in the basement. There they have spent 20 years waiting to be judged obedient and respectful enough to meet the mysterious Minister. The inevitable cries of ‘Too soon!’ – from the same people who hoover up exposé after exposé on Josef Fritzl’s secret basement family – are only the beginning of their story. Guilty laughs, shocked gasps and outraged knuckle-biting will follow every deliberately (and exhaustingly) overacted exclamation.

From the twins’ obscene games (‘Find the Bean’) to the predictably gory dénouement, every aspect of the play is shamelessly calculated to shock and offend. Like its source material, the show is unafraid to be what it is: a barefaced challenge to the kind of society that bans ice-cream van chimes for being too loud, or writes stiff letters to newspapers about shows like this.

Written by Sisters Grimm

Crew includes Declan Greene (director), Claire Glenn and Charlotte Strantzen (producers) and Ellen Gales (production and technical manager)

Cast includes Ash Flanders (Edmund Lovely), Matt Hickey (Kitty), Gillian Perry (Harriet Lovely) and Gerard Williams (Mommie)

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