Completely bizarre! That’s all that can be said after watching The Naughty Corner’s productions of ‘Not the Horse’ and ‘The Bastard Queen’.

When being seated for both shows, the actors were already on stage which gave a sense that you were already amongst the action from the moment you walked through the door.

‘Not the Horse’ is a comedy in which Tony a young lad from Liverpool ends up in debt to Cockney gangster; Dom Jones (pronounced Juan). Tony enlists the help of his friends; Stan and Paul to get himself out of the mess, encountering a group of Irish travellers on the way.

The mix of accents in ‘Not the Horse’ are hard to get your head around. There were times when it was struggle to hear what some of the actors were saying as they were speaking too fast. Also, some of the Irish accents were exceptionally poor. However, the character of Archie was the most redeemable of a bad bunch. The director should have employed a dialect coach!!.

‘Not the Horse’ has a very basic set, typically what is expected from a fringe production – not spectacular, nor was it awful.

There were times in the performance where the lighting failed to hit its intended target. Seeing as this was the production’s first time at that venue, perhaps there could have been a more in-depth technical rehearsal to iron out those small creases. A programme with the casts' names wasn’t provided, so it is difficult to name individual actors. However, Tony (the protagonist) is a very believable character. He portrays the fear and the fun side of the character very well.

Stan steals the show when he accidentally gets high and ends up ‘away with the fairies horses’. This is definitely the most entertaining part of the play, and is simply hilarious. For the first 20 minutes of the show I was utterly confused about this play. However, the penny finally dropped that it’s not supposed to be taken seriously. Overall, this is a good show with some excellent writing and humour.

After a 15-minute interval, the Bastard Queen begins. This play tells the story of the last four people on earth and what they do to survive when suddenly a pregnant girl arrives at their camp.

There are moments of this play that are exceptionally good, and moments that are completely boring. For example, at the beginning the cast set up the props and talk about food – this felt like it went on for ages. The audience gets the point of it after 10 seconds.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the play was when the characters had their food. As it’s the end of the world, the only food remaining is tins and it’s a lucky dip as to what you get. One character ended up with dog food – made even more real by the smell! There were times when some of the dialogue couldn’t be heard due to the actors shouting or coming in too soon before the music faded out.

Some the actors in this piece are absolutely exceptional – in particular the two male actors, and the blonde girl. There were times when the actors could have done better. For example, when it was raining none of them reacted to the rain – all of them went about their business as usual.

Something shocking happens near the end, which was completely unnecessary as it didn’t add anything to the story.

In all, this was an enjoyable night, that may have been slightly too long. Minds were starting to wander towards the end of the second show.

‘Not the Horse’ and ‘The Bastard Queen’ are currently on a tour of the North West.

Reviewer: Brian Madden

Reviewed: 28th January 2016