Review: Merlin is full of magic, mystery and mayhem

Swords, sourcery and plenty of laughs ensure Merlin is a real crowd pleaser.
Swords, sourcery and plenty of laughs ensure Merlin is a real crowd pleaser.

From his origins as the mythical grey-haired wizard, Merlin has undergone a bit of a makeover in popular culture in recent years.

Taking inspiration from the TV show of the same name, Ella Hickson’s Merlin is a coming of age story following a much younger Arthur, Merlin, and erstwhile friend and love interest, Gwen (Guinevere).

The premise might not seem particularly original, but strong central characters, an imaginative use of wonderfully creative sets and a willingness cross the line into absolute silliness makes the show a surefire crowd pleaser.

It is impossible not to root for Will Merrick (Merlin) and James Clay (Arthur) both of which give strong performances. Merlin as a young man troubled by his burgeoning powers and Arthur as a prince trying torn between his friends and his duty to his kingdom.

Witty one-liners, snappy dialogue and Tim Giles as the hilariously villainous Frenchman Garotte provide plenty of entertainment, including a brilliantly originally take on a jousting tournament which I won’t spoil here.

The production was filled with plenty of charming touches to amuse the kids, including a puppet dragon and two wise-cracking giant rabbits (don’t ask).

Slickly executed and with a cast clearly enjoying themselves, Merlin’s only real failing was in a number of songs where it was difficult to hear to the words, though this was a minor issue.

Merlin will run at the Royal Theatre until January 4. To book your ticket visit http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whatson/2014-2015/Royal/Merlin/?view=Standard.