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REVIEW: Vulcan 7 at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Vulcan 7
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Until Saturday 13th October 2018

Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer may have become household names with their work as The Young Ones and The Comic Strip in the 80s but this week’s show at the Theatre Royal witnesses them on a whole new trajectory. This is the funny version of Waiting For Godot for Generation X.

Nigel Planer plays Hugh Delavois MBE, who has made his name playing various butler roles. It isn’t that he is type-casted but he is now in a trailer in Iceland for a role as Vulcan’s butler. Vulcan VII: Return of the Titans may well be on Netflix soon but at least it is paid work and Hugh has his own trailer. This is more than can be said for fallen star Gary Savage, performed by the ever acerbic Adrian Edmondson. Gary Savage and Hugh Delavois were students at RADA together but now Gary suffers the indignity of an early call for 4 hours in make up before delivering his single word as a guest monster. His shoot should be over by lunch and they are keeping the alcohol away from him as insurance that he’ll deliver the goods. The only trouble is that Gary has gone missing – in Hugh’s trailer.

In fact, the entire show takes place in the spacious trailer as the two actors await their opportunity to start the days shoot. Keeping the peace and keeping them organised is Leela, the runner on the set. Lois Chimimba works hard as the keen young geologist that has taken a break from her studies to help out with the shoot on an active volcano. The two old actors have little time for one another as they have a lot of history between them but she needs to make sure they stay available for the shoot when it eventually starts.

The script has been written by Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer. It plays to their respective strengths and it is perhaps difficult to see anyone else playing the moribund actors with that sharp spark of comedic wit. Another pair may turn it into a “lovey-fest”. The script draws on the experience in the profession and probably borrows for the character traits of other actors that they’ve worked with over the years.

No longer restricted to a 28 minutes set on tv, the pair, under director Steve Marmion, have the chance to build up the tension before nailing the comedy line. Nigel plays the slightly straighter role as the downbeat actor with a passion for cobbling, whilst Adrian’s character is more likely to respond with a cutting piece of bad language or politically incorrect observation.

The show is a good comedy but it sometimes takes it’s time before building up to the laughs. The laughs, when they come, are worth it. Nigel and Adrian work well together and Lois supports the general mayhem happening on stage. The action definitely improves in act 2 without getting as intense, or as silly, as a fight scene in Bottom. The show has probably more in common with pace of Filthy Rich and Cat Flap.

As a big fan of their TV work it was fabulous to finally see them both on stage. It did not disappoint as the anarchic tale unfolded. Perhaps it could have been a little longer the first act was short, at under 40 minutes, but the full show actually ran for 2 hours including interval. I wasn’t the only one pleased to see Ade and Nigel in town as there was a sizeable crowd hanging around the stage door when we passed it afterwards.

Good fun.

Review by Stephen Oliver

Vulcan 7 is at Newcastle Theatre Royal between Monday 8 and Saturday 13 October 2018 at 7.30pm and matinees on Thursday at 2pm and Saturday at 2.30pm.  Tickets from £14.50 can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge) or book online at   

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