"Mystery, magic, mayhem and Maltesers"
by Colin Snell for remotegoat on 08/08/15

With more than a passing nod to the films of the 30s and 40s and the genre of the detective story, Anthony Horrowitz's 'The Falcon's Malteser' has proven to be one of the most popular children's books of the last thirty years and consequently New Old Friends (making people laugh since 2008) in collaboration with Theatre Royal Bath's Egg, Newbury Corn Exchange, Natural Theatre Company and Walker Books, bring their fast-paced and entertaining show to the Fringe, having toured nationally with great success last year. Aimed at family audiences (8+) it is a mixture of slapstick comedy, a couple of songs, and a witty script and relies on four actors to play some twenty roles between them including having a musical ability on the guitar and didgeridoo. The set (the interior of the Diamond Brothers Detective Agency office) neatly transforms into a variety of locations by the pulling out of a large draw, the moving of a table, the switching of a few signs, a series of rotating doors and a few other tricks to ensure that the action never falters, although I did find some of the scene changes were just a little over-long. However, it is all played with gusto and a degree of creativity and invention as a plethora of weird and wonderful characters from a three foot Mexican through to Fat Man (who has lost a great deal of weight), Gott and Himmell, Lauren Barcardi, Beatrice von Falkenberg and Betty Cleaner, to name but a few, are embroiled, together with Tim Diamond, a less than successful detective and his more astute and intelligent brother, Nick, in discovering why the box of Maltesers they have been asked to safeguard is of such importance. The actors are accomplished, confident and throw themselves into their roles with great aplomb. It's all very reminiscent of the more more successful West End shows 'The 39 Steps', adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow, and 'The Hound of the Baskervilles', adapted for the stage by Steven Canny and John Nicholson, but manages to keep its audience entertained throughout nevertheless. All very worthy and an enjoyable way to spend an hour in between everything else that is on offer.

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