Review: A comically messy Messiah that doesn’t quite work

Hugh Dennis as Maurice Rose and John Marquez as Ronald Bream in The Messiah
Hugh Dennis as Maurice Rose and John Marquez as Ronald Bream in The Messiah

Rather like its two main characters, this show rushes in all directions and manages to be both irritating and endearing at the same time.

Hugh Dennis’s character, Maurice, is coping with his marriage break-up by putting on a ridiculously overblown version of the Nativity story, assisted by his spectacularly inept friend, Ronald (John Marquez), and Lesley Garrett as opera singer Leonora Fflyte, providing music intervals mainly from The Messiah.

Writer Patrick Barlow uses his trademark mixture of comedy and pathos as Maurice and Ronald fumble along, creating mayhem and hitting a crisis that threatens to stop the show.

Marquez gives a fantastic performance with an undercurrent of mischief and Hugh Dennis is both funny and sad but can’t quite match his physical abilities.

Some of the best scenes involve the duo looking at the story from teenage mum-to-be Mary’s point of view, and there’s a great Call the Midwife section.

Lesley Garrett is fine but mostly wasted. I thought she needed to be far  more diva-like.

The audience participation is fun but doesn’t add much and the show, like Maurice and Ronald, tries hard but lacks clarity.