Inspector Norse. Lip Service Theatre Company at the Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough. 7-11-12

I have had a soft spot for Lip Service ever since I first saw their masterpiece Withering Looks at the Edinburgh festival, maybe twenty years ago. Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding have been working together since 1985 and they are now a finely honed team who know each other perfectly as performers and understand just what each other can do. You can feel safe with them, safe enough to relax and just enjoy sheer silliness, buoyed up by their simple charm and complete ease with an audience on stage. You can’t fake that quality. It has to be there naturally and then honed by years of working together. It doesn’t come cheap.

Their new show Inspector Norse is a gentle side swipe at the current craze for Scandinavian crime dramas. In spite of the hype most of us still know very little about Scandinavia and the show makes the most of this. Inspired by the fact that the most talked about aspect of The Killing was the distinctive jumper worm by the female detective (just think about how silly that is for a moment) we are given a fully hand knitted show with trolls, moose, viscera, and even a spectacular Walpurgisnacht firework display. I am not going to spoil it by explaining how, but it works. It is inventive and surreal and sometimes just plain daft. There is a plot, but frankly who cares? If they can make it happen in front of a midweek matinee audience in Scarborough in a space which really didn’t suit them then the lucky audiences who have yet to see it on it’s long tour have a treat ahead of them. This was just their second performance and it is only going to get sharper as they play with it, bed it in and run with the things which work.

Go along, wave your sporklas, take part in some knitted set dressing during the interval and enjoy a darkly hilarious bit of childlike fun.

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