The League Of Gentlemen Box Of Delights
Release Date: 20th November 2006
I stumbled across this box of delights in the dark corner of a local store. For local people of course. Unlocking the box revealed three treats waiting to be consumed. Live skits, quality panto and the end of the world. It’s The League Of Gentlemen’s lesser known material, the special stuff.
The League Of Gentlemen Live At Drury Lane
The first delight is the live show at Drury Lane. Here the League (consisting of Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss, not forgetting writer Jeremy Dyson who sticks to the scripts rather than dressing as a woman) perform on stage, sometimes in costume, sometimes not. The Northern town of Royston Vasey is not here in form, but in character and they perform a mixture of skits from the TV show and from new material to beautiful effect. One particular highlight is the play for Northerners Scumbelina, which accurately portrays the trials and tribulations of the friendly Northern folk. So, incomprehensible swearing and hunched back studs then.
The play takes its time to really heat up, starting with the slightly slow Go Johnny Go Go sketch, but when it heats up it’s on fire. No one is safe, as one unlucky member of the audience found out when he got to meet Herr Lipp…
The League Of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse
Next up in the box is the feature-length movie, The League Of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse. The writers of the show want to move on, which means the residents of Royston Vasey haven’t got long before they’re burnt to the ground via flaming meteorites. A plan has been set in motion however by the scary Vicar Bearnice, who plans to travel to the real world with two trust companions to change the writers minds. Unfortunately camp Herr Lipp, serial killer butcher Hilary Briss and angry screw up Geoff Tipps end up going instead. This unlikely trio is the only hope for Royston Vasey, and so much comedy, violence and horror unfolds.
The film follows the interesting concept that fictional characters will never be free and must forever conform to their puns and characteristics written by their masters. It might be too much of a shake up for some fans and it will certainly throw viewers who have never experienced Hilary’s evil ways or Geoff’s constant screw ups, but Apocalypse is a hilarious film for fans who don’t require the most popular characters to take control of the action. The trio is a strange rag-tag, but it’s the rag-tag that keeps it fresh.
A long diversion in a historical horror script drags the pace down, but it eventually pays off as Geoff steals the show. I wonder if the League playing themselves are as angry as they appear in this film? That’s the real question posed here.
The League Of Gentlemen Are Behind You!
The final delight is one to watch when trees are stuffed inside people’s houses and children start writing lists for a fat man who dresses in red. And myself. Yes, The League Of Gentlemen Are Behind You! is the League’s crack at a Christmas pantomime and letting the unruly lot of Royston Vasey star makes for a wonderful chaotic mess.
Everyone is dressed to impress unlike Live At Drury Lane, and the gags are fresher, played out with poorly cows, live magic shows and evil menaces for the crowd to shout out to. It’s full of energy and incredibly sick, just how The League Of Gentlemen should be, though the pantomime itself often diverges away from the plot at hand. Though you can’t expect the likes of Papa Lazarou and silly Mickey to keep things on track.
The Box Of Delights is an essential companion to the series for any true fan, though newcomers may feel a little threatened if they jump in without localising themselves with the series. You might not make it out alive if you do that.