END OF THE PIER
by Danny Robins.
The Park 200 Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP to 11 August 2018.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm. (No performance Sat 28 July).
Runs 2hr 15 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7870 6876
Review: William Russell 18 July.
Thought provoking black comedy about racist humour
Les Dennis is Bobby, a retired comic who back in the days when television audiences could be 20 million strong was a household name along with his partner Eddie. But they cracked a racist joke that even then was unacceptable and, as happened to so many other comedians in real life, lost their places on the small screen and went back to the world of panto and touring. Bobby lives for the past, doesn’t understand quite why it happened, the goal was always just to get the laugh, and is estranged from his son Michael played by Blake Harrison– a stand up comic, now the nation’s favourite, who plays urban duvet stuffing man on stage and is well aware of what now cannot be said.
But on his stag night in Blackpool with his old mates Michael gets very drunk, goes on the pier from which he used to fish, and something happens. The morning after he is in trouble and wants Dad to help him by providing an alibi. But he reckons without mobile phones, those curses of society which play a significant part in the plot.
Danny Robin’s comic skills as a writer are considerable and he gives both Michael and Nitin Gantra, who plays a would be stand up comic from Bangladesh, routines that are very funny and in the case of Gantra challenging. But there are some awkward shifts in the relationship between father and son, and it is never really clear why Bobby was a bad father in his son’s eyes.
Add to the mix the fact Michael has an uptight television diversity boss wife played by Tala Gouveia who is pregnant, unpleasant, lacks any sense of humour– and is black. Michael is, of course, modern man who does not have any racial prejudices. Or is he?
Dennis gives a splendid performance a Bobby, a man dreaming of the past when he was beloved, and the result briskly directed by Hannah Price is an evening to make one think about what is acceptable, what is funny, challenging, a breaker of outmoded boundaries and what is not funny any longer.
Michael: Blake Harrison.
Bobby: Les Dennis.
Jenna: Tala Gouveia.
Mohammed: Nitin Ganatra
Director: Hannah Price.
Designer: James Turner.
Lighting Designer: Sally Ferguson.
Sound Designer: Ella Washington.
Assistant Director: Denzel Westley-Sanderson.
Production photograph: Simon Annand.