Innuendo, cross dressing, and people pretending to be animals – but no, it’s not panto, it’s a rather ribald adaptation of Voltaire’s Candide, brought to life by the Norwich Theatre Royal’s Youth Company.
This is no dusty French philosopher’s tale, instead we watch as Candide (played with youthful earnestness by Nathan Mills) romps through a series of increasing bizarre events.
Occasionally helpful narration is provided by chambermaid Paquette (a saucy Daisy Den Engelse), Mary Bennett’s limping Old Woman With No Name and Only One Buttock, and the syphilitic philosopher Dr Pangloss (Tom Coath). Hero Bain is steadfast and endearing as Candide’s manservant, and Ruby Pinner a pragmatic Cunegonde, Candide’s true love.
The rest of the characters, including several sheep of surprising emotional depth, are played by an ensemble cast, slipping admirably between cannibals, queens, nuns, and soldiers.
You’re not going to find the meaning of life here, but you will find laughs, some clever staging, and above all some talented young actors.