Julian Eaves reviews Jonathan Harvey’s comedy Boom Bang-A-Bang now playing at Above The Stag Theatre in Vauxhall.
7th May 2019
Perfectly planned to coincide with the annual Tack-Fest of the Eurovision Song Contest (it’s on the 18th of this month, in case you live under a stone), this pitch-perfect three-act drawing-room comedy by Jonathan Harvey arrives to take us back into the mid-90’s and a long look at relationships, then as now, going beautifully wrong.
This is his sixth play and it is a remarkably accomplished, not to say zingy feat of taking the form of the three-acter and smashing it straight into the net of a contemporary setting and mores, strongly suggestive of the formal and structural control of Ayckbourn, yet laced heavily with the intoxicatingly pungent humour of his own view of life. Stuffed absolutely full with the best, crispest, freshest one-liners, it is an aural treat, as each character, in turn, gets to attack those around with an unbeatable combination of wit and cynicism, cracking out the jokes till you think no more can come… and then more do come.
And how. The host, Lee (Adam McCoy, giving it his sympathetic best), is keeping up a household tradition, following the – much-discussed – death of his boyfriend. He has to be the nearest we get to ‘straight man’ to the parade of local curiosities which then fills the stage. His best girlfriend, Wendy (what an apt coinage!), is played by Tori Hargreaves with deft assurance: she alone seems to have the least of a discernible ‘journey’ to go upon, and to talk about to the others; yet, hang with her and you will find there is something truly deep and surprising going on. Also rocking up is the would-be scene star, Roy, who – in Sean Huddlestan’s winsome and lovable ways – seems to be the last person on earth you would think of as a regular nosher of E’s and Charlie (a few diminutive lines of which are dutifully hoofed from the coffee-table – I said this was impoverished gentility). Yet, he manages to start a fire (not a spoiler, you see this coming a long way off – it is only funny, however, because Roy does not!).
Photos: PBG Studios