REVIEW: The Only Way is Downton – Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

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Writer: Luke Kempner

Director: Owen Lewis

The Only Way is Downton is the perfect vehicle for the impressive impersonation talents of creator Luke Kempner, and having toured the UK since its debut in 2013, this affectionate parody of not only Downton Abbey, but every current reality TV show you can name, shows no sign of losing its sparkle.

The plodding pace of the show’s plot has been replaced with a break-neck speed, quite frankly surreal, episode involving all your familiar favourites as well as a cast of utterly unexpected guests (Tom Daley, Dermot O’Leary anyone?)  Downton is in financial trouble (surprise, surprise) and the Dowager, family and servants will go to any, and extraordinary lengths to save it.

Considering the differing range of accents, pitches and tones, not to mention sexes of character, the frightening speed and consummate ease with which Kempner switches between each is breath-taking: with a mere twitch of the head or flick of the wrist the audience can instantly identify all.

The sheer range and accuracy of the impersonations is unique, and it’s hard to identify any area of real weakness; each of the Downton characters is spot-on. Unsurprisingly, it is the appearance of a certain Scottish tennis champion that rouses some of the evening’s loudest laughter, but Kempner to his credit, manages to deliver, quite literally, a laugh a minute and often more throughout.

For an evening of out and out belly laughs you can’t get any better than this. Kempner is a rare and unique talent.

Runs until 25th Aug