Health and Safety

Date 29th February 2020
Society Northern Comedy Theatre
Venue The Epstein Theatre, Hanover Street, Liverpool
Type of Production Play
Director Shaun Chambers

Report

Author: Jim Briscoe

A brand new play from the pen of David Spicer (‘Stop the Play’, ‘Raising Martha’ and ‘Superhero’s’). This play tells the story of when the country’s top Health and Safety Officers gather for their Annual National Conference... what could possibly go wrong?  As it turns out – absolutely everything!  Disaster abounds every turn... this hysterically rude and un-politically correct comedy is about people on a mission to stop us climbing trees, playing conkers and putting poodles in microwaves!  The play comes with a warning - it contains ‘no nuts’

Shaun Chambers (Director) did another great job with this production. He pulled together a group of amazingly talented actors who were enthusiastic, energetic, well rehearsed and who worked their ‘socks off’ to bring this production to life... well done sir!

Without doubt the ‘star of the show’ for me was Robert Stuart-Hudson who led the production as ‘Anthony Hadley’. Robert had great stage presence, great comedic ability and timing, mannerisms, facial expressions aplenty and the ability to bring this character to life. Well done Robert – great job!

Running Robert close for ‘star billing’ was Vikki Earle who gave us an impeccable performance as the ‘dyslexic’, ‘tweeting’, ’media student’ with aspirations of becoming a journalist ‘Kate Garner’. Vikki was excellent in this role; great stage presence, totally believable, kept in character throughout. Loved the concept of the on-stage screen showing what she ‘tweeted’, it created some memorable comedic moments... Congrats!

Kathryn Chambers gave us a wonderful performance as the ‘politically correct’, ‘wheelchair bound’  ‘lesbian’ ‘government official’ – ‘Jacquie O’Sullivan’. Kathryn took this part and made it her own! Again stage presence aplenty, great comedic timing; just loved the scene where Kathryn is ‘yanked’ from her wheelchair whilst trying to help ‘Mr Hadley’ out of his fluorescent jacket, hilarious...well done!

Another wonderfully powerful performance came from Connor Simkins who took on the role of another Government Official – ‘Howard Wall’. Powerful, calculating, utterly obnoxious... was at all times totally believable – great casting....well done, young man.

Ted Wilkinson played the role of ‘The Workman’ – who never uttered a single word – no need for words... his actions and mannerisms spoke louder than any words! He fell off ladders, drilled his hand and his leg, he stepped on nails... everything he touched or did was a total disaster! Loved the ‘spinning wheelchair’ and the ‘blow up suit’ routines - ‘hilarious performance’... well done, sir!

‘Steven Jolliffe MP’... played by Elliot Bailey.  What a bizarre role this was!  Another who didn’t say or should I say, couldn’t say a word, because the first time we saw him he was ‘dead’!  Strung up on a wall to the rear of the hotel bedroom door, dressed in just stockings, suspenders, a basque and nothing much else!  How Elliot managed never to move a muscle whilst ‘trussed up’ there... I’ll never know!

Leaving us with our final two characters... Tony O’Keefe who took on the role of the bumbling Detective Police Inspector ‘Duncan Kilburn’; despite appearing to know little or nothing about what he was doing, he arrests and interviews ‘Anthony Hadley’ on the suspicion of murdering ‘Steven Jolliffe’ and in order to obtain a confession, sticks a gun in ‘Hadley’s’ mouth! Things were never going to end well for ‘Kilburn’... and they didn’t...a ‘shocking experience’!  Mikyla Jane Durkan played the second Health and Safety Minister sent in to cover/replace ‘Steven Jolliffe’ after his untimely demise.  Mikyla did a good job with this role... believable with good comic timing.  Well done to both of you!

The set was minimal (bedroom scene – the rest was played in front of the house cloth) which worked reasonably well. The ‘props’, were of an excellent standard and enhanced the production as did, as previously stated the ‘on stage screen’... great concept, created some visually amusing moments!

My overall impression of this play was that Act 1 was amazing! It had everything, great feel, great comedic moments and great one liners – balanced against the tensions created by all the individual factions involved, this resulted in the audience being totally receptive to everything that was thrown at them and which culminated in a great audience reaction at the interval. Act 2, for me, was a little too ‘long’ and ‘wordy’ and at times a little fanciful!  The issues dealt with were ‘huge, relevant issues’...but I just felt they were over emphasised and at times I felt the audience got a little restless with the repetition; this resulted in a much more of a muted response at the final curtain and listening to many as they left... I did feel most had similar opinions!

Thank you so much for inviting my wife and I, we really did enjoy the play and look forward to seeing you all again soon.