Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court
A telly actress, a professional child, an old ham from “Stratford Rep”, a Hull Trucker. All of them savaged by the poison pen of tabloid critic and nasty woman Doris Wallis. And all dreaming no doubt of Theatre of Blood vengeance.
Doris is sadly unaware of the difference between hubris and hummus, and sure enough, after the interval, she is roundly humiliated between the libel courts and Wogan's sofa.
Ben Elton's 1991 comedy, written for the ample talents of Dawn French, was riotously revived by director Vince Webb and an enthusiastic cast.
Catherine Bailey was a loud, selfish, callous hack, with Kate Olson excellent as “Peggy” her mousy PA. Mike Nower was doubly convincing as “Douglas” the mild-mannered accountant, with Paul Macklin relishing his moments as “Eduardo” the jail-bait toyboy.
Phil Osborn was “Sidney” the red-top editor, with just the right aggressive tone, and a vocal delivery from the 'Enders school of acting – the articulation of the word “slag” the acid test here.
Some of the first act dragged a bit, with Elton's scatter-gun one-liners sometimes lost in the decibels. But the actors clearly enjoyed the coup-de-theatre denouement, and so did we.
Though I'd hardly dare say otherwise ...
The Standard's tv critic – like Elton, originally a stand-up comedian - was successfully sued by a foul-mouthed celebrity chef. Wolfit sued Tynan, David Soul sued the Daily Mirror. The usual critic's defence is “fair comment”. I rest my case.