3 GUYS NAKED FROM THE WAIST DOWN
book and lyrics by Jerry Colker music by Michael Rupert.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Arms 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 15 December 2015.
Sun-Mon 7.30pm Tue 2pm.
Runs 2hr 10min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652.
www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk (no booking fee by ’phone or online).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 7 June.
Naked or not, these Guys give good value.
In this mid-1980s New York musical, Three Guys’ three guys are comedy club aspirants, revelling in seventies style. Ted Klausterman is compère, positive in his patter, with a smile to shame a toothpaste add, while Phil Cunin is Mr Angry, developing comedy from the frustrated fury of daily life in the city.
Kenny Brester doesn’t so much have an act as a series of grisly interruptions to others’ spots. Appearances with a coat assaulted by arrows, or apparently headless, show a depressive nature, his fate following all too logically from this.
By the interval the three have teamed-up, Ted’s connections and the unconventional act built from their styles gaining a primetime TV spot, with Phil incredulous Kenny’s lugubrious contribution is included.
Act Two follows their later work, with its provocations, and leaves a sense of the fragility of a career in entertainment. Jerry Colker and Michael Rupert’s musical has some high-achieving moments, including the contrasted moods in Phil’s ‘Angry Guy, Lovely Day’, where the mood switches back-and-forth between an urban idyll and kneecappings with a baseball bat.
Whether or not Stephen Sondheim would have been proud to have written it, it certainly brings his agility and wit to mind. There’s also a device, used several times, where song seems to grow naturally from rhythmic speech and an underlying percussive beat.
Yet the piece is bound by its format. A single, more economical arch, without the interval and some of the more meandering sections, might have been more impressive overall, though the cast in Joshua Stamp-Simon’s revival work hard to maintain energy, and provide contrast with an infectious commitment.
The production helps bind together a piece which could seem more a pot-pourri of moments within an overall frame – why the decision to go for a Gilbert and Sullivan patter-song (soon dropped, once tried) among these guys?
All sing with skill and conviction while Guy Woolf, in particular, invests Kenny with an outsider’s alert sadness. Out-numbered by a band near twice their size, surrounded by the set of a different play, these Guys makes everything that might be made of the show.
Ted Klausterman: Simon Haines.
Kenny Brester: Guy Woolf.
Phil Kunin: Benedict Hastings.
Director: Joshua Stamp-Simon.
Designer: Anna Reid.
Lighting: Jack Weir.
Musical Director: Josh Sood.
Choreographer: Lindsay McAllister.