You can’t keep a good ghoul in its sarcophagus. Especially when it’s an ancient Egyptian. It can be truly frightening, or that terror can be exorcised through laughter. Ken Hill’s musical The Mummy’s Tomb has just enough of the former to whet the appetite and crisp dollops of the latter to assuage it.
Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 may have boosted interest in this extraordinary culture but heroic stories and chilling legends captured the European imagination long before then. This stylish production by Matt Devitt does the audience the courtesy of giving us a touch of authenticity as well as crisp comedy and a quite brilliant staging.
Designer Rodney Ford must take a large share of the credit for this. He has created a monumental sandstone-coloured pillared set which wraps around the stage, looks as solid as granite and reveals all manner of trickeries – multiple levels, trap-doors, sliding panels and so on. Richard Godin’s lighting wraps an illusion of pure gold around the pillars when required while the monumental statuary boasts glowing eyes.
The Queen’s resident company cut to the chase… act, sing, dance and play a variety of instruments with great facility as Professor Niven (Paul Leonard), his daughter Nancy (Michelle Log) and her two fiancés Paul (Oliver Beamish) and Rodney (Simon Jessop) go in search of the vanished tomb of the Amun Ra high priest Inmutef (Marcus Webb).
He, of course, has been buried alive by order of the pharaoh Amenhotep IV (Shaun Hennessy) – that’s the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten, by the way – for inappropriate behaviour with the queen (Claire Storey)– while Nefertiti was presumably having her head sculpted. But Ashayet as well as her former lover has acquired physical immortality, to be renewed in thoroughly unpleasant ways.
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