Pros: Some great comedy that will have you laughing and wincing at the pursuit of youth and beauty as a cure-all.
Cons: Some weak moments and predictability, though the positives outweigh the negatives.
Farce seems to have gone out of fashion recently; an occasional production will hark back to Alan Ayckbourn or Michael Frayn but ‘serious’ theatregoers often look down on the genre as lightweight. It conjures up images of village hall amateur dramatics and lots of ‘oops vicar, I’ve lost my trousers’. So putting on a new farce could be perceived as a daunting prospect and a public relations conundrum.
Never Mind the Botox combines the best of traditional farce with an up-to-date subject, i.e., our ever-increasing love affair with youth and physical perfection. Once the preserve of the rich and famous, cosmetic procedures are now commonplace and something that can be done in your lunchtime or at a botox party. We’ve all witnessed the wreckage of surgery that’s gone wrong and yet it doesn’t deter us in our belief that if we look perfect we will lead perfect lives.
A low-rent cosmetic surgery clinic provides the perfect setting for a modern comedy of errors. The cast of characters, who are all linked in one way or another, run the gamut of face lifts, botox, hair transplants, liposuction, boob jobs and penis extensions. The patients are presided over by Dr Longadonga (Mike Goodenough), whose drunken operating scene is a piece of comic perfection. He is aided and abetted by his wife/anaesthesiologist Christina (Liza Callinicos), who has the financial morals of a cheap airline and could give Lady Macbeth a run for her money.
There are some weak spots – some predictable scenarios, the final appearance of Bob was a bit of a let-down, as was the new business plan at the end – but on the whole the show provides an evening of pretty solid and silly entertainment. The basic stage set was adequate with a cleverly transforming sofa/operating table; the wall-mounted tv screen playing commercials promoting the clinic with hysterical ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots was an effective way of distracting and entertaining the audience whilst the set was changed.
If you have a delicate tummy then beware the result of the hair transplant; it had a few audience members gagging in revulsion – myself included.
The cast capably worked the comedy magic and the audience were audibly appreciative. I think everyone left feeling lighter and wearing a smile. It’s often said that comedy is just as difficult, if not more so, than straight drama so I applaud the chutzpah shown here in this tribute to a traditional theatre style. Put in foodie terms, this is the comfort of fish and chips as opposed to a trendy foraged Instagram creation. Don’t knock it – and pass the mushy peas!