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Cathedral hosts high-energy Walliams comedy


The Midnight Gang, Heartbreak Productions, Coventry Cathedral, July 21

Heartbreak Productions, which specialises in putting on shows in unusual venues, had a cracker in Coventry Cathedral.

And the Leamington company’s latest production, David Walliams’ comedy blockbuster The Midnight Gang, centres on five patients in the cash-strapped children’s ward of Lord Funt’s Hospital.

The five, with illnesses ranging from tonsillitis to cancer, form the eponymous gang to relieve the unrelenting boredom of illness and the decidedly un-tender ministrations of the sadistic Matron.

The six cast members - most of whom played at least one other character - delivered a lively performance, the quick costume changes adding to the exuberance and fast pace of the show. Of particular note was Howard Scott Walker, playing Matron as a magnificently-bosomed love child of Roald Dahl’s Miss Trunchbull and a Carry On-esque Hattie Jacques.

And Benjamin Darlington shone as the plain speaking northern captain of industry Sir Quentin Strillers.

The high-energy action was carried through the inventive set design, including an icy landscape complete with polar bear, and an innovative sky-high flying scene staged with the help of a rag doll, a bamboo rod and a bunch of miniature balloons.

In spite of the light-hearted narrative, the play succeeding in highlighting thought-provoking issues for its young audience, from the funding crisis in the NHS to the stigma sometimes suffered by young patients with terminal illnesses. However, the feel-good factor won the day and by the end even the 23-ft image of Christ in the Cathedral's Graham Sutherland tapestry seemed to be smiling. We all know the Bible verse which tells us that in God’s house there are many rooms. This show proves there is also ample space for a theatre.

Heartbreak Productions is touring four productions at venues nationwide. To find local shows go to https://tickets.heartbreakproductions.co.uk

Their next local show is The Railway Children at Ryton Pools Country Park on Friday, August 3 at 6pm. To book call 02476 305592.

Winner!