Dick and Dom in Da’ Montfort Hall: the kings of improv return for their 20th anniversary tour

Review by John Perry

Hearing the sweet sound of “bogies!” being howled from every direction was a great start to a night of nostalgia and brought a flashback moment to my childhood. It was like being in my front room at age 11 all over again. 2002 seems a lifetime ago since first seeing these household names invade our weekends. But here we are in 2023 sharing smiles again with them.

The masters of mayhem, the kings of improv and the jesters of the BBC. Da’ Bungalow provided me with smiles, laughter and escape from school. It was just a historic moment of children’s entertainment. Something you had to grow up with to understand how special it truly was.

Twenty years later – yes, 20 years – they haven’t changed a bit. Well, minus the flabby bits on their stomachs as Dick referred to them.

Returning with an all-new 2023 in Da’ Bungalow nationwide tour for their 20th anniversary of the hit kids TV show. Remember these guys are quadruple Bafta-award winning presenters. They know how to get a laugh and sell some tickets to the masses.

Besides dominating the De Montfort Hall stage with their incredible talent for cleverly immature and family focused comedy, they break the fourth wall almost constantly throughout the two-plus hours of insanity, and invite audience members to become their torture victims or as they like to refer to them, bungalow heads.

We saw arguments about if celery was a vegetable that resulted in Dom asking the audience to google the answer, mute interrogations from shy contestants with DI Harry Batt, not to mention grown adults wearing underwear on their head and dancing to the ”Pants Dance” song.

Out of context, this entire show seems utterly ludicrous. However, trust me, it makes sense in the moment. These two guys owned the era with their fantastic dry and silly humour. Nothing has changed with their stage show.

It has been years, and I mean years since I have cried with laughter. Side-splitting doesn’t cut it, they disembowelled the audiences’ funny bones and rattled them till they cackled with madness, not being able to take anymore. Then that is when they let you have a few minutes recovery with an interval. Every joke, audience interaction and mishap melded into a show that just felt totally natural. Nothing was faked. Nothing felt forced or out if place. It’s as if they never left our lives, oir our screens.

One of the many highlights was their bungalow cat, a puppet voiced by the strongest northern accent I have ever heard. He sang a song of Leicester, rhyming dry comedic lines with the audience about sites and things they visited before the evening show – referring to Richard III’s museum as the car park corpse show. That attention to detail to get a laugh is masterful. Never insulting us, just a simple tease.

Between the clapping along to memorable songs from the original TV series. The cheering from the crowd as old faces returned, and the jesters themselves pointing out the odd empty seat and need for the tour to make money. You really didn’t have time to breathe between the next infectious smirk they slammed on your face. It was rapid, witty, and outrageous comedy at its finest.

The show climaxes with Dick, Dom and all the participant bungalow heads covered in ”Creamy Muk Muk” attacking each-other as the Ace of Spades plays violently in the background. Just like the original TV counterpart. Certainly, you cannot deny the show is as advertised, and it was indeed the messiest night in the UK and I could not fault it an inch.

If you need a night of reminiscing simpler times, or just need a laugh. They captured the spirit of what made the TV show so special in mere seconds and I can confidently say there is no better comedy act in the UK right now to spend your hard-earned money on than Dick and Dom. So, go knock their door, watch out for purple carpet stains, and visit their infamous bungalow. Just make sure to bring a brolly for to avoid the mess in the front row.

The Dick and Dom tour continues until June. Get tickets here: https://myticket.co.uk/artists/dick-and-dom-in-da-bungalow-live

Leicester Comedy Festival preview: Zenjiro – Samurai Stand Up

With the Leicester Comedy Festival now in full swing for its 30th anniversary year, there is no better time to see incredible acts all over the city, writes John Perry. Diversity is something Leicester is justly proud of and there is no shortage of it with the acts to come.

One such man on that roster of talents for February is Zenjiro, winner of Bangkok’s international comedy competition.

Zenjiro is a Japanese stand-up comedian with physical energy levels to rival the great Lee Evans who’ll be playing Leicester on February 14 and 15.

He has previously featured on Japanorama, a TV show hosted by Jonathan Ross from 2002 to 2007. If you’ve seen that show, his face may seem familiar.

You will be able to witness his hilarious routine known as “Samurai Stand Up” at The Big Difference venue, within the heart of Leicester.

Zenjiro also demonstrates his talents via social platforms such as YouTube for those interested in checking out his talent before or after attending one of the shows.

Entry tickets at The Big Difference for Zenjiro: Samurai Stand Up will be £5, and you can book via the comedy festival website.

alternatively show up on the night and pay on arrival if you like to live a little dangerously.

Doors open at 7.40pm, with the show commencing at 8pm for a single hour of extreme octane energetic stand up.

Review: The Wizard of Oz at Curve, Leicester. ‘Over the Rainbow, and above my expectations’

By John Perry

The Wizard of Oz has seen many iterations since its conception into a novel by L. Frank Baum, most notably the 1939 Hollywood classic starring the late Judy Garland. Moving forward the best part of a century, Andrew Lloyd Webber redefined the classic into a stage production in 2011. Now in 2022, Curve Theatre has once again redefined what The Wizard of Oz is with their contemporary take on the tale involving deviations in characters and story to create an important version involving environmentalism.

Stepping into the Curve is an experience of its own, a modern building near the heart of Leicester, but I was still not expecting the sheer scale of production, talent, and technological achievement once I took my seat to view this fantastical performance.

The Wizard of Oz creative director Nikolai Foster brought his vision to the Curve theatre and it’s simply breathtaking. Inspired by Route 66 and the American dream, this is a new rendition of a classic that is a must-see. We all are aware of Dorothy’s adventure through Oz, her meeting characters representing her family, friends and learning to understand the importance of home through a magical experience. Here, we still get that core story but with modern twists, comedy, and heart.

You are not merely transported there; you are part of Oz for the next two hours.

The boldest surprise to me was that in the blink of an eye, set pieces meld into the stage with brilliant light shows and 3D effects. Flashes of light, dazzling special effects and environments on stage evolving. You are not pulled into the world; you are immersed into it. You are not merely transported there; you are part of Oz and Dorothy’s adventure for the next two hours.

The cast of the Wizard of Oz at Curve, Leicester. Photograph by Marc Brenner

The acting and vocal talent of the entire cast is brilliant but particularly in Dorothy (Georgina Onuorah), Scarecrow (Jonny Fines) and Glinda (Christina Bianco), phenomenal voices reverberate around the theatre space. They truly know how to pick artists here; the production team is a character of their own too. As is the band hidden beneath the stage – a live orchestra that many wouldn’t even believe was there. To the naked eye it’s simply a musical track playing unless you have the opportunity during the interval or a lucky seat at the front to peer below the stage into a pit of experienced musicians bringing Oz to life.

West End quality without the need for a trip to London is how best to describe it what is witnessed here. It features genuinely funny moments. Hearing a cast member saying “I’m a friend of Dorothy” – we all know the connotations – made the adults erupt in laughter, while Scarecrow simply leaping, falling, and rolling around the set during his introduction had the kids giggling like a pack of hyenas. An addition I did not expect was a puppet version of Toto that was handled entirely by a single crew member on stage, practical to avoid a real dog.

Aesthetically, it deviates heavily from the original to be in line more with its environmentalist take and contemporary vision, which includes Munchkin land being an industrial and dilapidated town, Emerald City representing a New York landscape and the witches of Oz riding motorcycles instead of brooms. It could have done more in terms of altering the narrative to fit this, but I expect it was a creative choice to stay truer to the original in its script.

Ben Thompson (Toto) and Georgina Onuorah (Dorothy). Photograph by Marc Brenner
Charlotte Jaconelli (The Wicked Witch of the West). Photograph by Marc Brenner

As the second half began it truly showcased more of the time and money that went into this daring new take on the classic. The production value and realism they went for was breathtaking: Emerald City having small Easter eggs on the large LED screen at the back, parodies of McDonald’s, Starbucks and even a nod to Garland herself in a Times Square-like billboard. The little things were not ignored.

The pinnacle of the entire performance must be Onuorah’s rendition of Over the Rainbow as Dorothy. A bright, positive, and soulful take on the theme to the original movie. It gave us goosebumps, and earned a standing ovation from many of the audience.

It’s for everyone. A modern take on a classical tale. A fantastic musical, with amazing vocal talent, technical expertise, music that just engulfs the audience in the moment. It was also wholesome to see a sign language interpreter present on stage for accessibility of disabled audience members. Inclusivity is important to Curve.

This production is incredible. After a pandemic delay, to find its feet like this and still be a powerhouse of entertainment. It is special. A true five-star experience and a must see for all the family this Christmas. It certainly went over the rainbow and above my expectations.

The Wizard of Oz runs at the Curve Theatre in Leicester until January 8.