Review: "The House of Nostril" at The Old Red Lion Theatre

Voodoo dolls, Amnesty International, and an awful lot of sweat. That’s the takeaway from Casual Violence’s most recent production of The House of Nostril.

Just kidding. There’s way more to it than that.

We returned to The Old Red Lion Theatre for another taste of the London Horror Festival and because we were filled with curiosity about seeing Casual Violence in the flesh. Greg Cranness, Alex Whyman, Luke Booys, David Arrondelle and James Hamilton are a bunch of funny men who, according to The Sunday Times, “mix Game of Thrones, The League of Gentlemen, and Roald Dahl to create dark, twisted, and silly skits…leading the new wave of sketch comedy”. Praise indeed.

Written by James Hamilton, whose other projects include writing for the Cartoon Network’s BAFTA- and Emmy-winning show “The Amazing World of Gumball”, the group’s third offering transports us to a crumbling Gothic pile, complete with a bloodthirsty father figure, a weak-willed son, a dubiously-bearded Irish nurse and a shedload of chimneysweeps. Obvs. The central idea is that Roger Nostril has returned to the family home, schlepping his lifelong hatred of Amnesty International, with the intention of foisting his murderous grudge on his reluctant son Charlie, and teaching him the secret of death-by-voodoo-doll in the process.

Honestly, the plot isn’t really the point.  You go to see Casual Violence because you fancy a good chortle, not because you want to be drawn into a painstakingly-crafted narrative. And chortle we did. I loved the Gordon Ramsay-esque poison taster. I loved the increasingly passive aggressive slideshow, provided by The Whole Buffalo. I loved the hokey, faux-spooky live score by Ben Champion. And I adored the whole scene with Old Uncle Nostril and his invisible goblin. Luke Booys has an excellent gremlin face – I hope he would take that as a compliment.

I thought the chimney sweep sketches may have gone on for a weeeeee bit too long, but otherwise, I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish. Quite appropriately for a show on just before Halloween, there were moments throughout when the members very nearly corpsed, especially during the heel-clicking choreography sections. I know some people would find this a mite unprofessional – but I loved it. There is nothing quite like watching performers in a state of unfettered joy (however daft) to get me smiling.

This is brash, loud, silly fun and I am already off to buy tickets to Casual Violence’s Christmas show The Grot in the Grotto”, on at the Soho Theatre from December 14th-22nd. I suggest you join me. 


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