As the seconds tick by during Director’s Cut, it seems an unprecedented act of cruelty that human beings didn’t become extinct before the invention of theatre. This brutally unfunny play by Kill the Beast theatre company, positions itself as a kind of end of the pier League of Gentleman, but instead feels like a pantomime written by someone with severe head injuries who half remembers Little Britain.
The plot – if it can be called that – it’s more a series of disparate scenes held together by the thinnest of narrative strings – concerns the creation of fictional horror film Rosemary’s Toddler. The film’s star Vivian Stone has died under mysterious circumstances and has been replaced by a lookalike Ronnie (both played by David Cumming). The other stars Mick Salad (Zoe Roberts) and Joanna (Natasha Hodgson) engage themselves in extracurricular activities, while director Wallis B. Mattravers (Ollie Jones) desperately tries to finish the film with a shrinking budget and Vivian’s ghost haunting the production. Directed and designed by Clem Garritty, Director’s Cut has an intentionally wobbly set of a living room, with two screens on both sides of the stage acting as both CCTV of backstage and the filming itself.
The play is a farce and all the acting is turned up to eleven as the performers shriek their dialogue with outlandish accents. The script is densely packed with theatrical clichés; everybody is referred to as “darling”, all the acting must be “bold”. Every comic set-piece is elongated to the point of bludgeoned death, with one scene, where each character tries desperately to avoid a dagger, lasting well over five minutes. This results in every sequence that could have raised a laugh being crushed beneath the boot of protraction. The play wants to be seen as Joe Orton-like farce – its silliness complimenting an intricate set-up – but it ultimately feels closer to the level of Chucklevision.
Director’s Cut is a play that ceaselessly causes a rolling of the eyes rather than the heave a cackle. It combines poor plotting with juvenile, deadened comedy and these flaws are magnified by terrible sound mixing, which results in everything blasting from speakers at intolerable volume. There’s a scene where the score is so loud it is literally impossible to hear the actor’s dialogue. Which, come to think of it, was probably the best part of the play.
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