People Show 137: God Knows How Many. Southwark Playhouse, London and then tour to 26.05.2020. 4****. Mark Courtice

People Show 137: God Knows How Many.

Conceived and devised by the company: Mark Long, Emil Wolk, George Khan, Bill Palmer, Marty Langthorne and Nigel Edwards


Southwark Playhouse, 5th – 29th February 2020

77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD

020 7407 0234

Monday to Saturday at 8.00 p.m. Matinee Saturday 28th February at 3.30 p.m.

Running time 1hour 15 minutes no interval

Then touring:

Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol, 12th – 14th March 2020

Lancaster Arts, 21st March 2020

Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, 26th May 2020

Review Mark Courtice: 8th February 2020


In the 50 years they have been making theatre, People Show have been disrupters of the theatre scene, or as they might put it in the first 20 minutes of this show (which are all in rather dodgy French) they are enfants terribles. For show 137 the mood is elegiac and reflective.

In a tatty French seaside café (complete with animatronic puppet tart) Mark and Emil (Mark Long and Emile Wolk) realise their failing bodies mean that the only the part of their cabaret that doesn’t break the new rules (no foreign languages) is impossible. Like most of their generation these guys thought that they’d never live long enough to get old, and who imagined that they’d be concerned about the exchange rate and the plunging pound?

It transpires that Mark has a film script that he’s been writing since his latest diagnosis – it’s called Shadow on the Lung in honour of the result and all it needs to be a Hollywood blockbuster is for Emil to smoke a cool cigarette…..

There is not much of a story here, what’s important if the feeling, the history, the fun of it. Although the script is flickering and rambling you are always in good hands. The experience that comes from 136 previous shows means that you may be baffled but never uncomfortable. It’s redolent with ideas and memories so you’re reminded of new wave film, Agatha Christie and Samuel Beckett. The long winding road of the text is anchored by references to the sea and beaches, and a past shared by the cast.

With George Khan in the team, music is of course important and fun; everyone lends their hand to an instrument and there is an engaging willingness to pick up different scraps of musical influence. The props and costumes appear low tech, but they’re cunning, neat and beautifully made.

Conceived and devised by the company: Mark Long, Emil Wolk, George Khan, Bill Palmer, Marty Langthorne and Nigel Edwards

Special Effects Design by Bill Palmer and Dr Dave Southall

Maureen’s Voice Nicola Blackwell

Additional Arrangements Nick Tigg

French Radio Fred D’Faye

Filming Zadoc Nava

Photography Sheila Burnett

ReviewsGate Copyright Protection