The Curiositorium is a series of interconnected comedy sketches strung onto a narrative that takes intrepid explorer “Bygone” on a mission searching through a secret labyrinthine underground museum, an institution best described as if John Lloyd’s mythical Radio 4 Museum of Curiosity had come to life in the theatre. On her journey, Bygone encounters a range of curious and colourful characters, who help or hinder her mission and provide much mirth and merriment.
This show is like a Pitt Rivers Museum of Comedy, an eclectic collection bursting with different comedy styles, from the surreal to the slapstick, from the farcical to the fantastic, from pun to pantomime, from the bizarre scenario to the brilliant one-liner, serving a wide variety of humorous tastes. It was interesting to see how the audience reaction reflected this. Like popping corn, explosions of hilarity erupted from different pockets of the audience, often spreading secondary ripples of laughter through the packed theatre.
There were dramatic changes in mood from scene to scene, moving from the mundane to the macabre, from high drama to bathos, from utterly bonkers to downright creepy. The Dead Secrets lived up to their reputation for innovative and imaginative writing, the creation and rapid establishment and development of a set of unforgettable characters, and slick, fast-paced production with rapid changes of scene and costume. It would be hard to convey in detail the quality of the sketches without spoiling the surprises for future audiences; however, if you would like to know what happened to reggae after 1993 or discover why The Dead Secrets could always pursue a highly successful alternative career as restaurateurs for the tourist population – you will find this and much more in The Curiositorium.
The next performance of The Curiositorium is at the Unicorn Theatre in Abingdon on Saturday 4 April.