My expectations of a Sunday are low. Once, I rather enjoyed working on a Sunday evening if only as a way to cut through the tedium of the day before Monday. What can you do on a Sunday, if you are grown up from the nonsense of expecting it to be a bit different?
So this Sunday I headed down to the Maddermarket and the cute theatre there to see an entertainment branded as ‘The Defective Inspector”.
Got me with the title really. An industry-grade pun is a hook I will always bite on. But I was unprepared for just how enjoyable this session would be. Two parts to the evening, first a perky bit of variety with various young talents giving a supportive audience some songs and monologues. Then a sustained and very fast paced drama justifying the name of the whole evening
The host, the urbane and often quite focused Harry Benjamin, introduced the acts often setting them in the context of their apparent source in the local ‘polytechnic university’. He could well make a good career out of this sort of thing. First up were two singers (Anna and Daniel) who would reappear in the main drama, but who meanwhile gave us a well crafted version of a ‘Spamalot’ song which I confess to not knowing previously (but I do now). The audience response suggested that either they were good friends (to the duo) at the very least, or it was quite well performed. I think both are true.
Next up was a ‘work in progress’ monologue from Jess Cuthbert as Shakespeare’s Bottom – the one in Midsummer Night’s Dream, for the avoidance of doubt. I have seen a few over the years, but I can safely say her Bottom is very good. I look forward to the full production.
The next developing piece was from Madeleine Accalia, a slightly surreal but thought-provoking glimpse into a relationship provoked by the uncomplicated business of their dogs doing what dogs do in a park. The monologue was gripping, detailed and very funny, while also being rather wistful as the pathos of it played out in just one day. Madeleine asked for input to help her develop this work, I would say that she is one to watch if this perceptive and engaging performance gives us just a hint of her theatrical skills. You will want to know more.
Music followed from Katy McEntee and Pete Rapp, who gave us some engaging versions of songs that I do not know but now feel I should. Once again rapturously applauded, and quite right too.
After a break we got into the main course of this menu, a three-hander written and directed by the leading actor in it, Harrison Cole. Playing a rather dodgy private investigator called Richard P Cooper he looks like a deeply unsuccessful 1950s car dealer. He heads for America to ply his detecting skills, aided by Daniel Hemsley and Ann Hodgson playing a myriad of other characters in a breathless and hilarious caper as he tries to get to the bottom of the threats to the re-election of the local mayor (amongst other bottoms). The drama is played in a tiny space in the Maddermarket bar proving that you do not need a big stage for a a big drama. This is a laugh-a-minute romp that misses no opportunity for quick laugh, but has a sustained plot and a wonderful way with an absolute minimum of props. And a stage dog – Mr Fluffington – like no other. The contrast between the suited private investigator and the bewildering succession of other well defined characters is beautifully observed and played by the three actors, and is one of the most enjoyable shows I have seen for some time. The show is heading for Brighton Fringe from May 28th so if you are in town for that I recommend making this show your first choice. Laughing Mirror are a fresh and lively young company who can be relied on for well made and very funny new theatre.
© Julian Swainson 2019
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