Barnaby Hallam's new play is about the modern issue of hard work where fading talent show star Boyd Miller is called to a reading of an enigmatic jazz virtuoso and discovers things about himself as a result.
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Writer Barnaby Hallam subjects the audience to a succession of visual attacks, starting with the lecherous old man reading the will at the beginning, who insults the audience on several accounts, then proceeds to come onto a group of - admittedly obnoxious - young girs. 'My varicose hip!' he cries as he attempts to lean towards them in seductive fashion.
More shocks follow. The aforementioned young girls are vile, poisonous little trolls who verbally abuse everyone they meet, though in terms which leave their victims more bemused than anything else.
Fortunately they are taught some manners by a transvestite plastic surgeon in red lipstick and what looks like a fetish mask. The surgeon keeps a hunting knife buckled to his belt, presumably one of the tools of his trade.
Shout out to Greg Keith, who transfers successfully from playing the lecherous old man for laughs, to a frankly gorgeous transvestite. I suspect he was the only cast member with the legs to pull off that mini-dress. And finally, Keith is magnetic, and convincing, as a blues-singing lobster, clicking his claws as he rhapsodies.
At the heart of the play is the choice the main protagonists must make, between being an overnight success with unnatural talent, but who will be driven mad by their fame and 'genius'; and of taking the long, hard slog to success. Will they accept the poisoned gift the lobster represents, or will they do it the hard way?
The comedy has echoes of surrealism or 'l'absurde' - one of the items bequeathed in the will is 'Fig rolls - someone's going to get their fill of fibre'. Sometimes lines are thrown out that fly right over the audience's head and we strain to see the punchline in what seems like a random string of words. But if you relax into the ride and roll with the absurdity, the plot takes on its own inevitable logic and ends with a powerful moral allegory.
All the cast were great. Nay, amazing. I just felt compelled to single out the man who made such a well-rounded character out of the singing lobster.