Pros: This is every unfortunate show you have ever seen, heard or can think of packed into one hilarious result!
Cons: This show does play slightly as an industry inside joke and might be funniest if you are or ever have been involved in the theatre industry.
Everyone who goes to a lot of theatre has seen the play in Stop! The Play. You know the one that stuffs every ‘edgy’ cliché into two hours (sometimes three for your sins) while you swelter in a tiny black box theatre in the audience with one other person (the director) only to come out praying for those 120 minutes (sometimes 180 for your sins) of your life back? And, if you work in the theatre, you have most definitely been in, stage managed, directed or written one – it’s practically a right of passage.
Well, Stop! The Play actually lets you laugh at what’s happening before you – in real time, not in the pub afterwards.
Hugh, Gemma, Linda, Walter and Kryston have all been hired to perform a debut work of the highest order, directed by Evelyn (a puffed up Oxbridge theatre-grad-cum-trustafarian-hipster, and stage managed by the efficient if over-burdened Chrissie.
While they have all signed up to a play about a struggling artist on his journey to be discovered, they end up contractually obliged to perform Banksy Ain’t Gay.
The path from A to Z is a tumultuous one plagued by rewrites that come before the new script can be learned, inter-cast tensions, a simpering bird brain of a director that appears to live up the writer’s backside and a rogue monkey. Yes, a rogue monkey.
The first act reveals all the shenanigans involved in the ‘making’ of the show and the second act reveals the shocking- yet belly-aching ridiculous, laugh-out-loud result of that process, allowing us to discover exactly what the show has finally decided to be about (maybe not).
It’s ironic that a show about another show that is so atrociously put together on every level, is, itself, so seamlessly constructed. A play within a play is no mean feat – a bad play within a good one ,an even bigger feat. Direction by John Schwab has teased out every stereotype of every entertainment personality ever known without tipping over the top, to great comedic effect.
Performances of each ‘type’ of theatre luvvie are spot on with special commendation to Hatty Preston as Gemma the ingénue, who does a perfect impression of a young and innocent new actor fresh on the scene flipping at once from ‘herself’ to her stage persona; and also to James Woolley as Walter, the lovable ‘experienced’ actor with lots of anecdotes up his sleeve.
This is a play that might be at it’s best if you can recognize yourself within it, however, it is should also just be plain funny to anyone with a sense of humour: well written, well acted and well directed – this is a definite must see.
Produced by: Tim Beckmann
Directed by: John Schwab
Written by: David Spicer
Booking Until: 27 June
Box Office: 08448717615 (ATG Tickets)
Booking Link: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/stop-the-play/trafalgar-studios/