Hugo is a dodgy entrepreneur who is about to open up a new business initiative funded by EU grants. The new office he rents, however, comes with an interfering concierge, who initiates a whole heap of trouble attempting a hostile take-over of his scheme and foiling his crooked plans. This new comedy by Sylvia Freedman attempts to mix farce with gentle political satire, but the leaden plotting, crass jokes and hackneyed dialogue are reminiscent of a bad 1970s sitcom.
John Adams’ direction seems to pander to the period style, complete with a slack pacing, woolly entrances and an excruciating dance break at the end of each scene. The cast appear mostly at sea, acting as if on a much larger stage and seeming uncomfortable on the King’s Heads’ superior new traverse layout.
Katy Manning – as the kooky concierge, Sylvia – has a promising entrance that will undoubtedly earn a round of applause from the legion of Doctor Who fans rallying to support her. Manning’s acting, like much of the rest of the cast, is extremely laboured however, vamping her way through the plot in a desperate attempt to raise a cheap laugh as the expensive ones all fall flat. On the plus side, given the obvious restraints of his role, Tristan Beint makes a decent Hugo, capturing the pomposity of the white-collar conman with some sense of integrity.
The King’s Head has its 45th anniversary this year, but they appear to be celebrating with a style of comedy that was going out of fashion when Dan Crawford founded the place.