By Guy Jones
Directed by Ed Curtis
Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
Date: Monday 24th July 2006
This was good fun. A spoof on celebrity and what it does to people who crave fame, it turned into a black comedy with murder, dismemberment and cover-ups.
Les Dennis plays the harassed writer of a medical soap opera (“Voted number one medical soap by Which Medical Soap Magazine!”). Some changes he’s making don’t please all of the cast, but one actor is particularly interested in what else he’s writing. And then the writer turns up dead, in a chair, whacked on the side of the head. And all in the first half.
Turns out he was writing an exposé on the leading man’s sexuality, outing him as gay. He needed the money to pay off some serious gambling debts, as the heavies were due to kneecap him the following day. The cast then end up sort of working together to cut up the body, and take various bits to remote locations, to burn and bury them (and not to throw them into the sea as one chap wants to do!), and all with the connivance, not to mention forceful persuasion of the show’s director (Mike McShane). With five bags’ worth to dispose of, each actor should have dealt with at least one, but the blonde floozy did her helpless female number till the good-hearted mug took hers as well. He and the sensible woman did theirs OK, but the leading man, cause of all their troubles, flunked it, and the next morning, with the police due to arrive, he finally admits the bag, with the head still in it, is behind the sofa! Just then the heavies turn up to collect the money, and a solution is found. All is well, and the final scene shows us the resulting careers of the various actors.
All of this is interspersed with interviews for a behind the scenes program, letting us see how the actors portray themselves to the public. We also see the missing confrontations between the writer and the cast members that lead up to his death.
This was very televisual, based as it was on the cult of celebrity that only works because of TV. The only real set was the green room, although for interviews, actors would be spotlit to imply a different location. It worked really well, taking the piss out of so many sacred cows, and the performances were excellent. A fun evening, and one I would see again.
© 2006 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me