Is this Angelos Epithemiou greeting people on the way down to the Ciao Roma basement? It isn’t, but it’s a janitor character not a million miles away from him, preparing the function room for some forthcoming dignatories.
We’re in Lower Swell, somewhere in the small minded English shires, in a Village Hall of character comic Dave Lemkin‘s imagination. As part of Lower Swell’s Summer Festival, local bigwigs will be addressing us humble villagers.
And they are the localest of bigwigs – Rev Church, the camp, threateningly unecumenical local vicar; Colin Jackson, management consultant; the Rt Hon Dickie Daventry, a Tory grandee in his dotage; and a garishly-legginged resident yoga teacher. The lowliness of this public appearance does not seem to have had much impact on their own inflated self-image.
Lemkin inhabits his characters very well. A lot of costume is involved (that’ll explain the delayed start then) but he has the physicality and vocal skills to match. There are certainly no cracks through to the man beneath.
At the same time, there’s little to surprise. Management consultant speak is a particularly well trodden comedy path (though there’s nothing wrong with Lemkin’s version of it). And while it’s always good to see a mad, old Tory duffer, there’s shades of Whitehouse’s Rowley Birkin QC beneath those ungroomed eyebrows.
Material is a little thin on the ground too. The janitor doesn’t do much except leer at a woman in the front row and others rely too much on audience interaction for comedy value. His vicar provokes a row of walkouts when he starts attributing religions to people in the audience and baiting them about it. Daventry’s the most voluble about himself, which makes for the show’s best bits, and he’s aided by a (real) dog, named Thatcher, which wins cuteness points.
Lemkin’s certainly very fastidious at ensuring the seams don’t show on his characters, but he could have gifted them more to say about themselves.