Thursday, 7 February 2008

REVIEW: "You've Been A Wonderful Audience"

Old comedians never die. Rather, they wind up in sappy works on the irony of laughter and the ultimate tragedy of death. In a play more suited for afternoon radio, You’ve Been A Wonderful Audience looks at the meaning of friendship and value of respect and old-time comedy at the end of life.

Produced by Drowning Fish, Wonderful tells the story of Tony (Martin Wimbush), a well known comedian in hospice being visited by Paul (Mark Katz), a young professional and admirer and Hugh (Peter Saracen), his long time friend and performing partner. The contrast between the three is immediately obvious: Tony is the suave, gentlemanly pro; Paul the rough cynical voice of a new comedic generation; and Hugh the loser, significantly less loveable offstage than on and the receiving end of torment from both. Still, the bonds of loyalty are fierce, even as Tony and Hugh diverge in terms of lifestyle as the latter is forced to confront his own demons, annoyingly whining all the way, in order to bring comfort to the former.

Billed as a tragicomedy, the ending will be of surprise to nobody, and indeed comes some fifteen minutes after the audience is ready for it. The comedic portion elicits a few grins and chuckles, but is far from brilliant, as if we are seeing the lowest echelon of the comedic duos popular in the 1950’s and 60’s: Rowan and Martin these two are not. Jeremy Bond does his best to fill the tiny Baron’s Court theatre, but he lets the pacing drag. Some wise trimming of Andrew Syers’ book would have helped, as would cutting incidental music composer’s Richard Supple’s introductive ditty which plagiarises the verse melody from “Comedy Tonight”.

Needless to say, this play was not to the RZ’s taste. However, those fond of the Hallmark Channel will enjoy this play greatly (if they can get over its at times questionable use of profanity).

Where: Baron’s Court Theatre @ The Curtain’s Up Pub
When: M-Sa @ 20:00
Cost: £12 General Admission
Concessions: Usuals for £10
RZ Unofficial “Worth Paying”: £5
RZ Other Notes: This is a rather noisy venue, but an interesting one nonetheless. This would be an excellent theatre for one-man shows, stand-up, etc. And props to Drowning Fish for providing free programmes, though a listing of actor and role would be greatly appreciated in future.

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