Eden Court represents the final staging-post for New Old Friends’ comedy-thriller Crimes, Camera, Action. After an award-winning tour, the performance proves to be night of hilarious comedy hijinks which bring the tour to a triumphant climax.
As company leader, alongside Heather Westwell, Feargus Woods Dunlop has strong views about comedy’s importance and the challenges involved in bringing it to the stage. It involves hard work and an understanding of the truth, but most importantly you have to be meticulous. Fortunately in this case, they are.
This tale of sleuth Stan Shakespeare and his investigations into a shocking series of Hollywood murders is an engrossing spoof of film noir. We know exactly where we are from the minute we enter gumshoe Stan’s office, and he is called to investigate the death of the glamorous Lee Lakeworth, which proves to be only the first of several tragedies to afflict the set of film director Donnie Lapin’s latest potboiler: ‘Cowboys and Chorus Girls in Space’.
It’s fast-moving and enjoyably bewildering as the four performers careen about a versatile set. Each actor adopts multiple roles via an array of props, costumes, wigs, hats and voices, helping to create an entertaining gallery of grotesque, broad and recognisable stereotypes and clichés.
At the heart of the tornado of characters is Stan, guiding us through the narrative with witty asides. He has regular banter with, and against, the operators of lighting and sound effects which spices up his fast-talking chat. He hates Hollywood’s fakery and greed and gets us easily onside with in-jokes and self-mockery. One minute he is conspiring with the audience, the next he is berating us for not getting the puns – patiently repeating names like “Fay Kalibi”. The wit goes on and on, and the show is none the worse for that.
Amidst all the puns, the shoot-outs, dangling from buildings, and slo-mo replays there is a knowingness that comes from a place of love. We too are in on the joke as Stan fast-forwards through a long denouement monologue, and come the end we are left wanting more of these characters. Although you do wonder how many more of these quick scene changes, and vocal and physical contortions the small cast could manage.
The cast’s delight at the rousing Inverness reception openly acknowledges the recent frustrations and challenges for the theatre industry, but we look forward to New Old Friends’ future productions.