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The MagistrateReally rather enjoyed the exuberant hi-jinx of The Magistrate at the National Theatre tonight… a wordy, galloping, improbable farce, but infused with heart and integrity; without real consequence but with true human dilemma and occasional tenderness. The entire thing is played with the decibel and seismic levels turned up to the max, with gargantuan style and sharp detail; the zany outfits match the breathless performances, the cartoon set matches the comic book story, the plucky songs match the waggish plot. It’s chaos, but works. Lithgow is utterly British in accent, manner and nuance – John Cleese fused with Robin Williams. Nancy Carroll’s is a richly comic performance with a voiceMagistrate like thunder. Joshua McGuire’s horrifically time-warped Cis is a satanic Edwardian Oompa Loompa, and sets the show’s grotesque comic tone, never flagging in energy. Yes, the songs go on a little bit too long, but it’s all in good spirit and pays off at the end when Lithgow joins in. Bonus fun watching it in the theatre while NT Live beams it to cinemas around the world. Emma Freud on good form as ever.

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