The Adventure Of Isaac Saddlesore and the Witches Of Drenn doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? Despite being a bit of a mouthful, this title does accurately portray the goings-on of this play. It’s 1905, and opium addict-cum-detective Isaac Saddlesore (Lewis Allcock) is unfurling mysteries left and right, with his trusty sidekick and part-time smut writer George Hotbuns (Roger Parkins). The plot is a bit of a mish-mash, but from what I could gather, there is a “curse” upon the Gropefund family. They’re being knocked off, one by one, and appearing as statues. It’s apparent that outlandish Australian Sir Maxwell may be next, unless the culprits can be stopped. It’s up to neurotic Saddlesore and his bumbling sexpot of an accomplice to solve the murders. A self-proclaimed “comedy mystery set in a world suspiciously like that of Sherlock Holmes” – this play by Callum Hale is an hour and a bit of easy, silly slapstick.
Directed by Amy Wicks, this production by the Micawber Theatre Company falls into the ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ genre. Akin to other small companies, a sizeable portion of their schtick relies on their DIY production vibe, presumably created by a limited budget. While it is, in places, funny, it’s been done – a lot. Especially by companies who run small shows often above pubs, with limited space and limited means. The actual humour of the piece is hit and miss, some laugh-out-loud witticisms, and some truly dreadful puns. And not good dreadful, but actually dreadful. It also taps in to the seemingly current trend of being ‘woke’ (as in, the political term referring to the awareness of current social issues). Morgan Saddlesore (Alice Osmanski), twin of Isaac, pokes fun at the gender equality in the cast. So why not, instead of writing in a joke about the lack of women in the cast, just write in more women?
Dylan Allcock writes and plays all the music in the piece, an admirable feat, while the cast perform with unbridled enthusiasm. They multirole impressively, although almost too much, sometimes using only different accents to differentiate between characters and often replying to themselves. This is mildly confusing to begin with, but the format is quickly understood. Parkins provides most of the laughs, with Hale as Sir Maxwell and his Australian-isms a close second. With its Jonson-esque character names and confusingly woven and often unexplained plot, this really is a knock-off Sherlock Holmes. Very British, very silly, and a little cheesy – Isaac Saddlesore is a classic whodunit with added idiocy.
The Adventure Of Isaac Saddlesore and the Witches of Drenn played at the Hen and Chickens Theatre until 9 April
Photo: Hen & Chickens Theatre