Not that they are entirely unstoppable. The storyline from hilarious Annunciation through knockabout Nativity to Resurrection is carried in blessed little oases of calypso and physical comedy by Ram John Holder with just a guitar and a small band of minstrels. These are moments of relative calm which bring both laughter and narrative clarity to proceedings which otherwise rely on a barrage of largely undifferentiated sound.
For the rest, all is colour, extravagant costumes with massive wings and headdresses, hugely amplified rhythm and voice, energy and dance - both solo and by a brilliantly drilled community chorus. It's like a sanitised (but not spayed) distillation of Notting Hill, or Leeds's Roundhay, squashed into the Playhouse's Quarry (i.e. larger) theatre, where it uses entrances, aisles, balconies and vomitories to spread its message of colour-blind inclusiveness and universality. The basic culture may be black but WASPs have equal opportunities here and grab them with enthusiasm - if a tad more self-consciously and arthritically than their sisters and brothers. Indeed, the community steel band which plays the 'Halleluiah Chorus' - a disappointingly muted moment for the great Handelian climax - is predominantly white.
The fetish for inclusiveness leads to a few questionable excursions. There is a gratuitous Bollywood moment, complete with sitar accompaniment, which doesn't appear to have much relevance either to Carnival or to the Messiah; melding 'Hare Krishna' into 'Halleluiah' seems to be missing a point somewhere; and I do wonder about the taste involved in grafting 'Jehovah' lyrics on to the Hasidic 'Hava Nagila'. And what are we to make of the invocation of universality when it leads to a parade at the start of the second half momentarily recalling the old music hall act which claimed only to "fill the stage with flags" - not only the flags of all nations, but the five linked circles of the Olympic Games too?
But at the end of a very long night, you forget the quibbles and go with the flow: the most sublime moment of the evening comes with some delicious kora playing by Seiko Susso, but for the rest it's simply a matter of the louder (noise and colour) the better.
Review by Ian Watson