b by Mike Stone.
Old Red Lion 418 St John Street EC1V 4NJ To 29 March 2015.
Mon–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3pm Sun 2pm.
Runs 2hr One Interval.
TICKETS: 0844 412 4307.
Review: William Russell 5 March.
Impressive look at the world of professional wrestling.
Lardo, a fat Glaswegian laddie whose late father was a wrestler, has dreams of following in his footsteps by joining the Tartan Wrestling Madness run by nasty promoter Stairs. He has persuaded his nice girlfriend to film him and the results posted on You tube have created the character he wants to perform in the ring, an admittedly fat but also endearing and slightly boastful slob.
In due course Lardo gets his chance, loses the girl, becomes a big hit with Scottish audiences and things happen as he dreams of making it to the big time in the USA.
This is Mike Stone’s first full length play and he has created a tale which holds the attention, and believable characters, while director Finn Caldwell keeps the action flowing fast and furious. There is an awful lot of audience participation – the action takes place inside a wrestling ring which occupies the entire acting space of the theatre – which gets quite alarming at times.
The actors have been remarkably well drilled by the wrestling director, Henry Devas, and while that proximity means one can see that occasionally the punches don’t hit home, there is no escaping the fact that the falls are just like the real thing – choreographed to perfection.
Daniel Buckley is very impressive as Lardo, a sweet young man whose brains do seem to be housed in the bum-bag he insists on wearing. He has undergone an astonishing transformation since the last time I saw him, singing away sweetly in Ushers, the Front of House Musical – shaving off his hair for a start.
Zoe Hunter is splendid as the tough lady wrestler, Nick Karimi makes Stairs thoroughly repellent and there is a nice double turn by Stuart Ryan as Wee Man, a glamour puss boy-wrestler, and as a middle-aged man who turns out to hold the key to the story, while Rebecca Pownall and Laura Darrall flesh out the other women in the play effectively.
Cassie: Rebecca Pownall.
Kelly: Laura Darrall.
Lardo: Daniel Buckley.
Mary: Zoe Hunter.
Stairs: Nick Karimi.
Wee Man/Derek: Stuart Ryan.
Director: Finn Caldwell.
Designer/Costume: Max Dorey.
Lighting: Matthew Daw.
Sound: Kieran Lucas.
Wrestling director: Henry Devas.