by Saul Rubinek.
Menier Chocolate Factory 53 Southwark Street SE1 1RU To 12 November 2011.
Tue-Sat 8pm Mat Sat & Sun 3.30pm.
Runs: 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: Box Office 020 7378 1713.
Review: Carole Woddis 30 September.
Bubble that squeaks.
Chocolate Factory programme. And to prove it they’ve had success after success with the musicals A Little Night Music, La Cage Aux Folles, Sunday in the Park with George and now Ruby Wax – Losing It ending up in the West End. But when it comes to straight drama – or rather comic drama – something seems to come unstuck. Or maybe I’ve just struck unlucky.
Stinky and Jake are pals. Stinky’s love life is in a mess and smooth-talking Jake offers him advice. Come clean. Make a clean breast of it. The consequences are predictably disastrous.
American actor-turned-writer, Saul Rubinek was haunted by an occasion back in 1977, sipping coffee in a bar in New York and hearing all those around him giving advice. The moment stayed with him and 44 years on, Terrible Advice has emerged as a fully grown two acter.
The only problem is, it’s about thirty years too late. Buddy movies are probably always with us. So too variations on Men Behaving Badly, or rather, acting like adolescent boys unable to grow up. Scott Bakula (one of the Star Trek alumni, making his UK stage debut) is your feckless all-American loafer living off Caroline Quentin’s rapacious divorceé, Hedda, and handing out questionable advice to Andy Nyman’s podgy, nervy, vulnerable Stanley or Stinky.
Stinky however is having a relationship with Sharon Horgan’s Delila but a) doesn’t or can’t have children and b) is seeing other women.
The degree to which the convolutions of Stinky’s angst, Jake’s sexual triumphalism, Hedda’s ball-breaking and Delila’s extra-marital one-night stand entertain you is probably in direct proportion to how much Rubinek’s raffish dialogue amuses you or the scenario strikes you as surprising or shocking. Neil Simon he ain’t.
You can’t fault the stellar actors and comic performers and with multi-award winning Muppet collaborator Frank Oz in the driving seat, the production, if heavy on set changes, carries a foot-tapping 80s’ musical dynamism about it. Stanley’s transformative ending, too, is touchingly honest. Perhaps it would all sit better Off-Broadway.
Stanley (Stinky): Andy Nyman.
Jake: Scott Bakula.
Delila: Sharon Horgan.
Hedda: Caroline Quentin.
Director: Frank Oz.
Designer: David Farley.
Lighting: Paul Anderson.
Sound: David Ogilvy.
Dialect coach: Rick Lipton.
World premiere of Terrible Advice at the Menier Chocolate Factory 22 September 2011.