Dead Funny is awkward, embarrassing and very amusing. To be performed at the sparkling new Simpkins Lee theatre, the play surrounds the Dead Funny Society – a group of 30-something men (and Lisa) who are obsessed with old school comedians.The play begins with a comical tension between the married couple Richard (Jordan Waller) and Eleanor (Charlie Mulliner) who met through ‘serious professional misconduct’ (in Richard’s words).
The pair initially picked up lots of laughs, but there was a lull in the comic potential of the marital dissonance mid-scene. That said, the pair manage to portray the ennui of 10 years of married life in bitterly funny fashion.The laughs pick up when the pair get naked for some couples therapy. Although we can’t see any of Richard’s supposed hefty waistline (both Waller and Mulliner look fantastic in their undies), you feel part of the ailing relationship. Brian (Lloyd Houston) has the first awkward interruption of the play, which occur repeatedly at predictably embarrassing moments. His exaggerated character offers less to the extract I saw, but has potential for the later scenes.
The second interruption by Lisa (Lauren Hyett), and Nick (Will Hatcher) revitalises the performance. Their prancing entrance into the living room during a sexual counselling video provides early evidence of the group’s great chemistry when together. Also facing a challenging relationship, Hyett and Hatcher act strongly and consistently in this scene. I look forward to seeing the culmination at Benny Hill’s remembrance party in 4th week.Rather outdated comedians (such as Benny Hill) written into the play may pass over the heads of audiences next week. However, light-hearted throughout, Dead Funny looks set to be a professional production in 4th week. The five strong cast carries the comedy throughout.