MARK WAREHAM SHOW OF THE WEEK

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - COMEDY -

For 15 long years, devo­tees en­dured a League Of Gen­tle­men famine. Then, in 2017, a feast was de­clared in the night­mar­ish town of Roys­ton Vasey and the twisted char­ac­ters were res­ur­rected for three TV spe­cials. Now comes the live tour, their first in 12 years.

The first half is a blast from the past. The three Gents – Mark Gatiss, Steve Pem­ber­ton and Reece Shear­smith – take a min­i­mal­ist ap­proach in black tie, run­ning through clas­sic sketches with no sets and barely a prop. Cringe­ing theatre-in-ed­u­ca­tion com­pany Legz Akimbo reprise Perve Swerve, their play about ‘stranger dan­ger’, be­fore the trio sit down for the baf­fling card game Go Johnny Go Go Go Go. It feels like their de­but 20 years ago. Taut scripts, bril­liantly acted, black as tar. Post-in­ter­val, the League’s defin­ing duo, the grotesque sib­ling-spouses Tubbs and Ed­ward take up the story from the last TV spe­cial, with Tubbs trapped down the ter­ri­fy­ing Papa Lazarou’s ‘wife mine’.

A mu­si­cal num­ber her­alds an hour of daz­zling new ma­te­rial, a bl­iz­zard of cos­tume changes and high­tech set pieces.

Even when they opt for broad farce, you can only marvel at the re­lent­less­ness of their jam-packed smut-athon.

As Tubbs and Ed­ward face down Papa Lazarou in an ex­plo­sive fi­nale, life in the troubled north­ern town is back to its grue­some best.

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