The Wicker Woman

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

This fantastically low-budget retelling of the cult 1973 movie is riot of stupid gags, brilliant invention and hilariously off-kilter acting.

The sets and props are wonderfully tacky, the script knowing yet silly, and the whole thing completely, and gloriously, over the top.

For those who haven't seen the original, an explanation of its plot is conveniently shoehorned into this spoof. Essentially it's: stranger visiting remote Scottish island goes missing; police officer sent to investigate encounters spooky goings-on; villagers burn outsider in giant wicker figure as pagan sacrifice.

It takes just three people - and a lot of talent - to portray the cast of dozens; from the perky, bubblegummy policewoman Chastity to the overenthusiastic gingham-clad bumpkin Willow, via romantically smitten cops, giggling wind farm technicians, and even an entire mob of angry locals.

Deft comic touches pervade the script like intolerance pervades the countryside, with running gags about the freakish man hands of gorgeous star Lucy Montgomery, some silly puppet theatre and plenty of lines mocking the ridiculousness of this entire, overambitious venture.

Most often, though, the laughs come from the inventive solutions to staging such an epic tale for a few quid. Describing any would spoil their impact, but rest assured the team are duly resourceful - often to the extent that the mere introduction of a clever new prop is enough to elicit an appreciative round of applause.

The relentless show's a little overstretched at an hour, and the post-ritual ending could do with being sharper, but otherwise this is great fun all the way, packed with inspired ideas and executed with impressive gusto and skill.

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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