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Way Out West review at Nightingale Theatre Brighton

This piece of new writing, set in a pub, features two characters, one a cartoonish Oliver Hardy lookalike, Harry (Mike Goodenough), the other, a more naturalistic, troubled Stan Laurelesque figure, Sam, played by Damien Lyne. They seem mismatched from the outset, not just because they belong in different plays.

Writer/director Paul Hodson takes a long time to establish the premise that the characters are possibly the reincarnation of the great comedians. They spend too much time trying to work out whether they have met before, and then the different threads are not pulled together subtly or convincingly enough by the end.

The acting styles range from comedy mugging and miming to confessional monologues and the themes of serendipity, grief and loneliness don’t really mesh. The play moves forward in fits and starts, with too much verbose dialogue and a loss of dramatic structure and tension early on.

The actors perform energetically in an efficiently directed production. Goodenough is something of a comic caricature throughout, his emotions never more than sketched in, but he delivers his part with energy and style. Lyne, playing the bereaved Sam, is more nuanced, although this does create an instability of tone for the audience.

The play lurches towards the melancholy and suicidal at the end, as the characters climb a bridge in a sudden suicide pact. But this too feels out of kilter in a piece that never really works out what to do with its initial Laurel and Hardy reincarnation idea.

Production Information

Nightingale Theatre, Brighton, January 24-28

Author/director
Paul Hodson
Producer
Jackie Alexander
Cast
Mike Goodenough, Damien Lyne
Running time
1hr 10mins

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