Tag Archives: Patric Kearns

Costa del LOLs

SWAP!

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Tuesday 28th June, 2016

 

Farce is an art from a bygone age and requires the skills of a sonneteer or a watchmaker to make it work as it should.  Actor Ian Ogilvy turns playwright and director for this production of his new piece and, indeed, all the ingredients are there.  People coming together in the same place for different reasons, misunderstandings, reversals, absurd events – Andy Newell’s set has the requisite number of exits and entrances to facilitate the action…

We are in a villa in Marbella.  Middle-class couple Brian and Susan Flowers are taking a break from their funeral direction business and have ‘swapped’ their Wimbledon home for something more exotic.  Brother-in-law Jeremy is also along for the ride.  Not long after their arrival they find themselves plunged into a nightmare of corpses and confusion.   The owner, now in their house in South London, is a Costa del Sol mobster and his rivals from Torremolinos are out to get him…

It’s not long before a dead body is falling out of a cupboard and we’re off!  A well-worn device of a telephone call for exposition dominates the opening scene, cranking the comic tension right up.  The cast maintain a high level of hysterical sarcasm throughout – Ogilvy directs with an assured hand – there is just the odd moment when the action or pacing needs sharpening.

David Callister is superbly annoying as the nasally verbose undertaker Brian, while Freya Copeland is suitably fed up and scathing as long-suffering wife Susan.  Patric Kearns has a hint of Matt Berry in his Jeremy, and Louisa Lytton’s Coral, the gangster’s moll, is delightfully dim.  David Janson makes a welcome appearance as mobster Paul and there are some enjoyable cameo performances from Michael Kirk, Davies Palmer and Alan Mehdizadeh as a range of characters. The latter’s Harry the Hammer is hilarious and menacing at the same time.  You don’t want villains to be too villainous in farce – just enough to motivate the others to taking action.

On the whole, it all ticks along very well.  Apart from a couple of references to the internet, it could have been written forty years ago – and that’s not a criticism.  Ogilvy has risen to the challenge and has pulled it off.  It’s a pleasure to see things being set up, pieces falling into place, and paying off.  The final absurdity is a masterstroke, both fitting and surprising, and among the machinations of the plot there are some genuinely funny, original jokes.

Performed with comic intensity by a committed company, Swap! is a satisfyingly silly, cleverly constructed and funny farce, with a body count higher than your average murder mystery!  It’s just the tonic in this period of economic and political uncertainty.

A right good, old-school laugh.

GAD_Sept15_Wolv_125x133.indd

 

Save

Advertisements

Murder Most Enjoyable

DIAL M FOR MURDER

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Thursday 28th April, 2016

 

Frederick Knott’s classic thriller bears repeated viewing (this is my third or fourth production) not least because it’s not a whodunit – it’s more of a will-he-get-away-with-it?  And even if you already know the answer to that, there is still much to reward the audience in this tautly written, expertly plotted piece.  A lesson in crime-writing.

Tony Wendice (Oliver Mellor) is plotting to bump off his wife Sheila (Terri Dwyer) and so enlists former school acquaintance and Jeremy Clarkson lookalike (Jolyon Young) to do the actual deed.  Knott has the two men talk through the plan in detail so we know what’s coming.  This adds to the suspense.  A phone call is to be the inciting action… When it happens, the playwright shows he has surprises up his sleeve.

Oliver Mellor is rather good at being bad.  His Tony is a manipulative, assertive bully – I enjoy disliking him from the off.  Terri Dwyer cuts an elegant figure in 50s couture and, of the entire company, she captures the acting style of the period without descending into spoof or caricature.  Marcus Hutton gives a suave and earnest turn as Sheila’s erstwhile lover Max.  The dialogue, somewhat dated now, sounds fresh coming from these more-than-competent actors.  I find it hard to credit that the young Mellor and the older Young were at the same school, however fleetingly, but I suspend my disbelief and let that go.

Completing the company is an enjoyable John Hester as Inspector Hubbard, deadpan and perspicacious.  We get just much pleasure from watching him unpick Wendice’s deadly scheme.  Director Patric Kearns handles the suspense and the violence well, and the show looks great, courtesy of Geoff Gilder’s design and David North’s lighting.  Production company Talking Scarlet has mounted a solid, dependable staging of a play that epitomises the genre.  Very satisfying.

Dial M For Murder photo 1 (1).JPG.gallery

No, I don’t have PPI – Olvier Mellor as Tony Wendice


On the right track…

THE GHOST TRAIN

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Tuesday 7th April, 2015

 

Arnold Ridley’s 1923 comedy thriller is on the road again in this pleasing production from Talking Scarlet. Now a period piece, this is an old-fashioned slice of Englishness with shocks and laughs along the way.

A group of passengers is stranded at a remote Cornish station – despite warnings from the stationmaster (Jeffrey Holland in full-on character mode) and hearing the local legend, they settle in for the night. The arrival of strangers and the apparent unfolding of the ghost story crank up the tension.  Mind you, we have all waited for trains that mysteriously never turn up!

Holland is at home in this creaky old piece, and so is Ben Roddy as Richard Winthrop, handling the “Now look here”s of the dialogue as though people talk like that all the time. In the mouths of others, the dialogue doesn’t sound as good: you need to heighten your performance in order to carry orf this kind of thing. Insufferable prat Teddie (Tom Butcher) is therefore not as ghastly as he could be, which dilutes the impact somewhat of the eventual reveal of his true identity. Newlyweds Charles and Peggy (Chris Sheridan and Sophie Powles) could perhaps do with a little more of the caricature in their portrayals in order to maximise the fun.

Judy Buxton enjoys herself as old boot Miss Bourne, and Corrinne Wicks’s Elsie embodies the new independent woman of the time. Jo Castleton stalks around melodramatically as the disturbed Julia Price, contrasting neatly with David Janson as her concerned brother Herbert.

As I said, it’s all rather pleasing even if it does lack a little oomph at the start. Director Patric Kearns gets a few good jumps out of us, and proves that even if you know what’s coming, Ridley’s play can still work a treat.

ghost train