At Christmas the Belgrade’s second theatre hosted an alternative seasonal entertainment from Coventry comedy double-act The Cheeky Chappies, and now here is another original show from a duo hailing from the city.
The Brothers Marquez are indeed brothers called Martin and John Marquez, but they have busy individual careers in theatre and television as well as a collective one. Their last appearance on stage together in the West Midlands was in the tour of 1960s farce Boeing Boeing at Birmingham Rep last year.
This is a very different kind of show. Built up over a period of four or five years from a collection of characters and sketches, and directed by Timothy Sheader, artistic director of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, it’s an evocation of early 20th century Italian circus, presided over by a pair of mafiosi-like brothers.
The chief narrative thread involves a father, his simpleton son who wants to join the circus and a mystery about the boy’s missing mother. There is also a small appearance by the doge of Venice, oddly conceived as a stick-wielding barbarian with a Glaswegian accent.
Though the performers are obviously much taken with all this self-indulgent whimsy, I found it disappointingly resistible and generally not very funny. There are some atmospheric moments and nice technical touches, like the use of a revolving stage and projections on to a curtain which cleverly give the impression that some very rapid costume changes are even quicker.
The second half, where most of those quick changes take place as various acts follow each other in rapid succession, is livelier. But only Raphael and Gabriel, the world’s only Siamese twins joined at the hair – and Brummies into the bargain – had serious daft-appeal.
Running time: One hour, 50 minutes.
Until March 20.