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Omnibus review at Unity Theatre, Liverpool – ‘entertaining farce’

The cast of Omnibus at Unity Theatre, Liverpool. Photo: Brian Roberts The cast of Omnibus at Unity Theatre, Liverpool. Photo: Brian Roberts
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Comedian Katie Mulgrew’s first full length play, Omnibus, won the 2015 Hope Playwriting Prize and is presented while its co-producer’s home, the Royal Court, is closed for further development work.

It presents an opportunity for the Royal Court’s work to appear ‘unplugged’ with its actors enjoying the more intimate space of the newly refurbished Unity Theatre.

The space perfectly fits the one-set sitcom environment of this fast-moving mixture of farce and black comedy. Housemates Lauren, Mark and Nell watch the Eastenders Omnibus whilst Jess tries not to set fire to a guinea fowl in the kitchen.

The arrival of inept local gangster Leslie ignites a comic fuse that burns rapidly throughout the piece. This is very funny stuff.

The plot manages to stay just the right side of plausible to hold the audience’s attention and the play has a satisfying overall shape to it.

Gemma Banks’ stoic Nell bounces beautifully off Alice Bunker-Whitney and Eva McKenna’s drunken Lauren and dizzy Jess. Joel Parry gets to endure the obligatory trouser-less scene as Mark and Eithne Browne turns what could be a second act cameo into a comic centrepiece with her performance as Jan. But it’s Danny Burns who takes the prize for comic timing with his perfectly pitched characterisation of the gun brandishing Leslie.

This interesting and seemingly unlikely association of the Unity and Royal Court theatres seems to have paid dividends – it could well be the start of a beautiful friendship

 

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Verdict
Entertaining farce that distils the genre perfectly into the intimacy of the Unity Theatre
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