Thursday, September 28

The Messenger – Assembly Roxy

Motion. Emotion. Toilet Humour.

This masked physical theatre play grabs from the start and we soon see the stakes are high. An imperial figure initiates the process for A Mission, where someone is endowed with the ability to carry this out through the bestowing of a special hat, accompanied by rousing adventure music. Costume is of the Korean Joseon period, but we quickly follow this new Messenger into the modern world, and there the fun begins.

Hangings allow the set to swiftly change from neutral to a photographer’s studio / home. Different characters are strongly depicted, from an old photographer and the ill wife to whom he is devoted, to various amusing customers – including a dog – wedding planners, and, of course, the mysterious Messenger.  The focus is on the relationship of the elderly couple and the storytelling involves slapstick and other physical comedy, acrobatics, K-pop and that toilet humour – truly toilet humour!

Be prepared for being splashed (a fan came in handy for shielding and batting), being highly entertained and also being deeply moved.

While some of the slapstick took a while to warm up and to warm the audience, the skilful characterisations, comedy routines, intriguing customers, heartfelt story, fights you really come to care about, and overall humanity of this piece reached everyone there and had us all feeling – with a few sometimes being (lightly) – involved. By the time of the curtain call, you can genuinely feel surprised to see the size of the cast that has taken you through this fantastical yet very real journey.

‘The Messenger’ is a magical and moving slice-of-life story, with some real belly laughs, and yes, some tears – all of them worth it! On until: 27th August (not 21st)

Reviewer: Danielle Farrow

Reviewed: 13th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.