Expectations increase with a production involving “big names”. Then again, so do ticket sales, so it’s seemingly a fair trade – especially considering that obscure new plays like Vulcan 7 really only get exposure in well known theatres by touting their famous stars. It should be a good thing having established comic actors providing a platform for new writing. However, it can often prove disappointing for audiences when these shows don’t come anywhere near the quality of those in which the names made their mark.
Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer need little introduction – at least for anyone over the age of about 35. These comic heroes rose to become household names in the 1980s, chiefly through the iconic TV show The Young Ones, alongside comedy legend Rik Mayall. There’s no doubt about the talents of these two, but this play isn’t the right vehicle for them, especially as a (chiefly) double act.
Edmondson plays the ageing hell raising actor Gary Savage, who is on the set of Vulcan 7, the seventh in a series of low brow sci-fi movies. Savage, once lauded on stage and screen, is now relegated to a role as a walk on, something he bemoans in a ‘don’t you know who I am’ manner throughout the piece. Planer’s character, Hugh Delavois, has appeared in every film of the series as the Vulcan’s butler, with his relative success in later years proving a source of intense irritation to Savage. The two bicker, reminisce and fight in Delavois’ trailer, with effective comic interjections from Lois Chimimba as one of the film’s runners.
There are some very funny moments – mainly provided by Edmondson, displaying his on-point comic delivery. That said, not a lot happens, which wouldn’t be a big problem were it not for a weak script and characters we don’t really care for. As much of the dialogue references plays and the lives of actors, this might not resonate with those who are not part of the theatre community. Unfortuantely, there’s just not enough substance elsewhere to draw us into their worlds.
Even though Vulcan 7 does provide some laughs, as well as a great set and soundscape, overall it falls flat.