Bill Bryson's Down Under

Norwich Playhouse

Writer/director Paul Hodson and performer Steve Steen seem a winning combination when teamed with the words of our latest celebrity Norfolk resident – Bill Bryson.

Between them they made light work of The Lost Continent, went on to sell out with Notes From a Small Island and, after last night's world premiere of Down Under, it looks like they're set to conquer a continent or two – if they can just steer clear of the sharks…

Steen embodied the affable American travel writer so well that even Bryson probably pinched himself a couple of times. Then again, as a veteran of the Rory Bremner show, this maestro performer has a keen sense for the quick caricature.

Whilst journeying from one sweltering end of Australia to the other, the boards thronged with a gallery of wryly-observed antipodeans, including everything from strangely wobbly drunken women to the first explorers and nightmare crocodiles gifted with the power of speech.

The set – a map of Australia with chunks knocked out of it – was less enlightening to anyone with as little geography as me.

The music was evocative and the lighting design sizzled on the Playhouse stage.

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A show was so absorbing it really was like reading your favourite book.