Octopus Soup: Jack Milner and Mark Stevenson
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
BO: 024 7655 3055
Runs: 2h 5m, one interval, to 16 Feb at the Belgrade and then touring into May
Review: 8 February, Rod Dungate
Octopus Soup takes a deliciously funny swipe at the insurance rip-off (ooops, sorry, industry.) It does it via some unlikely characters and unlikely situations, but such is the life-force of comedy.
Seymour, an ethical insurance consultant, is interrupted just before an important Skype-type consultancy pitch, by a burglar. Both men is would seem are spectacularly inept, but between them they hatch a plan to make oodles of dosh from an insurance scam built around an imaginary algorithm. All sounds quite feasible to me. And from this start, Octopus Soup swims off on its mad-cap course.
Milner and Stevenson have constructed a tight comedy with some excellent moments of farce-like business. There’s much sharp dialogue too. When Virginia (terrifying US CEO of an insurance conglomerate) and Alan (UK gangster chief) talk at cross purposes about their respective businesses, the resulting misunderstandings are glorious.
Paul Bradley makes a most likeable burglar, Marvin, with a ready flow of malapropisms. Mick Hancock, Seymour keeps the anxiety levels high and the pace moving along, as the insurance policy consultant.
It’s a well-knit cast, incorporating, too, Terry, the octopus, making his theatrical debut after the stresses of predicting football championships.
Joe Harmston directs with an eye and an ear for the play’ pace and energy.
It’s all there and needs just a little more running in. The team would do well to sit back on the play and enjoy it more, particularly in the first half, drawing us in – the second half hit exactly the right tone. And keep in mind the bite, if not of the octopus, of the Octopus Soup.
Seymour: Nick Hancock
Gloria: Carolyn Backhouse
Virginia: Gillian Bevan
Marvin: Paul Bradley
Alan: Eric Ricchard
Terry: Sally McCormack
Director: Joe Harmston
Designer: Anthony Lamble
Lighting: Rob Casey
Sound: Matt Bugg