On The Razzle, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Are we downhearted? No one could be after being On the Razzle with more than a score of Tom Stoppard's vivid characters in Vienna, where the Danube isn't the only thing that runs blue.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Are we downhearted? No one could be after being On the Razzle with more than a score of Tom Stoppard's vivid characters in Vienna, where the Danube isn't the only thing that runs blue. On with the waltz, then, round and round in circles, getting giddier and giddier, and ending up just about where we started.

Words, like events, have a life of their own. The talk bubbles like champagne, getting up your nose sometimes.

To add another unlikely layer of improbability it's Scottish week in the Austrian capital.

Director Clare Goddard keeps the action on its toes, and John Stokes' designs have just enough of the period about them. The old empire is in decline, but sliding down is fun when style is the watchword and upsetting hierarchies still seems pretty daring. As in all the best farces, fear is one of the elements in the laughter.

The cast is strong. Trevor Burton and Barnaby Matley are the Likely Lads, and David Newham is their boss, struggling into his uniform before setting out for amorous conquest. John Mangan, as Melchior, creates the very portrait of a servant with a chequered career, and the ladies are decorative, if not exactly decorous.

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t One The Razzle runs at the Maddermarket Theatre until Saturday April 5. Box office: 01603 620917.

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