Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Stand Up & Be Counted - Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Writer: Jim Davidson
Director: Clare Kissane 
Reviewer: Ann Bawtree

In “Stand Up and Be Counted” Jim Davidson has cleverly created a two hour vehicle for his own well known genre. The evening is more a situation than a play.  The setting is alternately on stage and backstage at a charity performance for AIDS victims.

Jim has given himself the part of “Eddie”, a fading comedic figure from the past. He has surrounded himself with five stereotypical characters, the oversexed cocaine snorter, the naïve starlet, the luckless wife, the show’s camp compere and the faithful retainer.  None of these is allowed to develop or overshadow Eddie. Even when one of the men reveals himself as one of those homosexuals Eddie despises so much is there any reaction from or effect on the rest of the cast.  

The characters attempt to discuss how comedy has changed over the last few decades since Eddie’s heyday as a high earning celebrity. There is not much clarity of reasoning on the topic as the conversations are peppered so highly with expletives that it is hard to follow the argument. The action is punctuated with, presumably, simulated acts of copulation between two of the characters. Part two is a carefully crafted descent from the blatantly vulgar to the unmitigatingly obscene.

The evening ends with that age old solution to “how to get off the stage” with Eddie murdering that lovely Billy Joel song “In Every Heart” in a suitably maudlin manner. The evening is a very succinct depiction of a career in decline.

One of the main remits of “The Public Reviews” is to suggest the kind of audience who would most appreciate the show under review.  In this case the broad appeal would be to those who would enjoy a lengthy and graphic account of a middle aged drunk performing oral sex on his mother. 

However the set, costumes, lighting and sound effects were excellent.

Runs until 12 March 2011
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