Pros: A lean script, geared towards generating laugh after laugh.
Cons: The show is a bit like a panto – if you’re not in the mood for high-octane silliness, you’re not likely to enjoy it.
Having missed Death Ship 666 in the summer – when I made a fleeting visit to the Edinburgh Festival – I was keen to see the play that everyone seemed to be talking about. With a cast of six playing multiple characters, Death Ship 666 parodies the likes of Titanic and The Poseidon Adventure. Eschewing elaborate set pieces and complicated plots, the show takes its lead from comedy classics such as Airplane and Anchorman – with a visual or verbal gag every couple of seconds. Not all the gags work as well as each other, but as there are so many, if you don’t laugh at one thing, you’re bound to a minute later.
Aboard the eponymous ship, where almost everyone is an archetype, the Captain ignores the advice of the Architect, who suggests that the half-built ship is not ready to sail to the Bermuda Triangle. One party has planted dynamite all over the vessel, while unbeknownst to them, the Electrician has a similar plan. As he’s married to the Captain’s niece, the Electrician is counting on inheriting all the Captain’s money so that he can use it to cripple the stock markets, and disperse it to the starving in Africa and other charitable causes (very Dark Knight Rises wouldn’t you say?).
What next proceeds is a juggernaut of mayhem, as the actors change between scenes and costumes at breathtaking speed. It could be argued that the plot is secondary to the gags, but the cast play it with such gusto that their infectious enthusiasm carries you along for the ride. It’s a credit to the cast and writing that, amid the maelstrom of character changes, one always knows what’s going on and there’s something to laugh about at regular intervals.
All the cast are strong in their roles, so to single out one person would do the show a disservice. However, among my personal favourites were Carrie Marx, who played the overzealous tour guide and has us in fits of giggles as child Holly Hobby; Andrew Utley who played the Captain and Electrician, who you end up rooting for; and Rachel Parris as ‘Grandma’, her predicament being similar to Johnny Cash’s My Name Is Sue in that she has had a lifetime with an inappropriate name. In addition, Anna Morris’ turn as Evil Rich Lady always made me chuckle, as her character’s laughter sounded exactly like Emma Thompson’s Miss Money-Stirling from the ‘Bambi’ episode of The Young Ones. And lest I forget, there’s a very funny (and dare I say it, an accomplished) parody/homage to ‘One More Day’ from Les Misérables that comes when you least expect it!
Authors: The Clarkson Twins and Gemma Hurley
Director: Michael Patrick Clarkson
Box Office: 020 7287 2875
Booking Link: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/jermynstreettheatre/default.aspx
Booking Until: 15th December 2013