Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Camden Fringe 2023


Camden Fringe 2023 This one-act, fifty-minute play tells the tale of how, in the wake of multi-millionaire Philip Spanker’s death, his three (or is it?) children and their partners all regroup to read the will and figure out who gets the cash. This is a simple setup, and one that also provides for great comedy. The script is fast-paced, and the actors are all well able to match that pace with their line deliveries and smartly timed reactions. The play combines stage acting and screen acting by cutting from the action, on a stage with only a long table…

Rating



Good

A quick and dirty comedy that screams student theatre, this play accurately recreates the experience of watching a Rolls Royce drive off a cliff in slow-motion.

This one-act, fifty-minute play tells the tale of how, in the wake of multi-millionaire Philip Spanker’s death, his three (or is it?) children and their partners all regroup to read the will and figure out who gets the cash. This is a simple setup, and one that also provides for great comedy. The script is fast-paced, and the actors are all well able to match that pace with their line deliveries and smartly timed reactions.

The play combines stage acting and screen acting by cutting from the action, on a stage with only a long table and memorial stand for a set, to pre-filmed segments that take place in the most obviously student accommodation kitchen I’ve ever seen that has been dolled up to act as the Spankers’ kitchen instead. This setup leads to some of the more memorable jokes, like the lights going down on one of the venerable Lady Gagá’s more sombre hymns, and coming back up on the funeral guests all caught up in a rave. Lighting and sound are minimal but all on-cue, and don’t need to be more complex than they are. The costumes are fairly surface-level – the “trashy” woman wears leopard-print with visible bright red bra straps, to a funeral, no less – but serve to communicate the characters’ archetypes on sight.

From the beginning of the play it’s clear that the audience are not supposed to sympathise with any of these characters – a load of rich Spankers who all want sixty million pounds for themselves, leaving nothing for their siblings – but it all gets worse from there. The eldest son Julian (Fraser Adams), a clueless but well-meaning toff, seems nice enough; his girlfriend Kat (Hannah Alcock) is quickly revealed to be taking advantage of his love and stupidity to make off with the fortune. Middle daughter Florence (Izzy Burton) is a quick-witted and determined woman whose coke habit ends up driving her manic as the bickering gets worse. The youngest, Gwenevere (Morgan Clarice), has brought her husband Tarquin (Ben Payne)… and Tarquin’s brought his side piece, Alfie (Jack Ashley). Plenty of sexual humour and some political pot-shots at big names like Boris Johnson and Katie Hopkins round out the contemporary energy of the script.

This brings to the table the question of the secret fourth Spanker sibling, Hewbert (Jack Collins), and how the character’s depiction was poorly handled. Hewbert is introduced as “Father’s second favourite… before The Incident” (spoken with appropriate hushed tones and terror), who has “got loose” and now threatens all three of their claims to the money. Hewbert has been dressed only in a nightie and underwear, has long and unkempt hair, and can say nothing but his own name as he maniacally chases his siblings around the stage. Once they finally hit him in the head and get him out of the picture, though, Hewbert stands up with his full mental capacity returned and no memory of the last few decades. This paired with the use of Kat’s sex work career as a punchline, and the fact that the only non-skinny actress plays the ugly virgin whose husband doesn’t want her, all feel out of place for a script which seems otherwise so determined to express left-wing beliefs.

Despite that particular aspect putting me off, it’s still an enjoyable show with commendable acting. Highlights include Kat’s impressive labour contraction screams, and the heartfelt serenade that Tarquin gives to his sweet Caroline – sorry, Alfie. If you’re interested in watching the rich eat each other, and you don’t mind a little audience participation, this might obviously be one you want to catch!


Written and Directed By: Izzy Burton
Produced By: Morgan Clarice; Obviously A Theatre Company

An Obviously Very Sad Play has completed its current run at Camden Fringe.


By Sandra Winters

Writer | Author | Wordsmith Passionate about crafting stories that captivate and inspire. Published author of [Book Title]. Dedicated to exploring the depths of human emotions and experiences through the power of words. Join me on this literary journey as we delve into the realms of imagination and uncover the beauty of storytelling.