Comic Strip

De Montfort Hall, Leicester, Friday 27th April, 2012

Four male celebs (Marcus Patrick, Danny Young, Dale Howard and Alex Reid) encounter each other at Manchester Airport. Their flight to Bali has been delayed and tempers are running short. This opening scene allows us to meet the characters who, coincidentally have the same names as the actors portraying them. They are exaggerated versions of themselves. Marcus Patrick is a moaner, trying to trade on his celebrity status and getting the bum’s rush; Danny Young is the lairy wide boy with a rucksack full of pills; Dale Howard is the withdrawn, quiet one; Alex Reid is a revelation as an anxiety-ridden wimp, hyperventilating into a rubber glove at the first sign of conflict.

It’s all done for laughs and this self-mockery sets the tone. There is banter and bickering between them and with the supporting cast (Rick Pearce, David Witts and drag artiste David Rumelle). Between scenes, the guys move downstage and remove another item of clothing. The teases.

Because of the infamous Icelandic ash cloud, their flight is diverted to Spain and they are forced to check in at the Hotel Calamari, where they are mistaken for the troupe of male strippers expected to entertain at a hen party. In a tenuous plot twist, the boys decide to stand in for the strippers and get rehearsing right away. They take to it like ducks to baby oil. The first half closes with their routine – they just about pull it off.

The second half begins with a press conference – the lads are going pro. Of course, by this point, having been to the bar and already whipped into frenzy, the audience is not listening. Wisely, the show drops any pretence at storytelling and the rest of it comprises of the fellas’ routines, in group and solo numbers. Dale is a Baywatch lifeguard, Marcus a fireman with some nifty hose-play, Danny is Richard Gere in An Officer And A Gentleman, and Alex, no surprise, is a boxer. There is plenty of teasing and cheekiness. Think Gypsy Rose Lee played by Robin Askwith. This is a giant saucy seaside postcard of a show and enormous fun.

There were some problems though, with the sound – and I don’t mean the dialogue drowned out by hundreds of baying women. The bass was too loud, masking the announcements from that bloke what does the voiceovers on E4. Some of the mics were down too low at points. Luckily, there were plenty of visuals to compensate for these shortcomings.

In a range of roles, David Rumelle, all wigs and glitter, comperes the second act as “Dilly Devine” with a stream of jokes, some old, some new, some borrowed and all of them blue. Rick Pearce and David Witts also get their solo spots, and very nice they are too, but for me, man of the match was Marcus Patrick – the sight of him dressed as a giant banana with his bare buttocks hanging out encapsulates what this show is all about.

About williamstafford

Novelist (Brough & Miller, sci fi, historical fantasy) Theatre critic and Actor - I can often be found walking the streets of Stratford upon Avon in the guise of the Bard! View all posts by williamstafford

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