The Lying Kind - Review

With a reputation built upon serious plays, full of angst or having a strong meat content, The New Venture occasionally it lets its hair down and ventures into comedy. When it does the results are glorious and this production, a wonderful piece of lunacy, was no exception.

Director Ian Black’s choice of play was an inspired one. I understand that Black worked on it whilst working for his Master’s Degree hence his complete understanding of its requirements.

How two inept police constables made the journey from arriving at a house of an old couple to break the sad news of the death of their daughter to performing a striptease is almost too complicated to explain within my allotted word count. Suffice it to say that the journey, full of misunderstandings, included a vicar who was not all he appeared to be and an encounter with Gronya, the leader of a vigilante group known as PAPS – Parents Against Paedophile Scum.

The multi-layers of the surreal plot proved to be farcically hilarious and offered a superb pre-Christmas treat. Its many black humoured twists and turns owed more than a passing nod to Joe Orton. In fact Gronya brought to mind his Inspector Truscott – both believing that the route to justice can only be achieved through inflicting pain.

All good farces need the production to be slick and fast moving and Black’s direction was full on, hardly allowing the audience to draw breath between laughs. However, amidst the humour there were moments of poignancy from Sheelagh Baker’s depiction of an old woman’s mental confusion. Even her penchant for wanting to expose her bottom had its comedy underscored by the degradation of the act. Tom Robinson’s understated performance proved to be a perfect foil to Baker’s eccentricity as he wandered around totally bewildered by the events unfolding around him.

George Trotter and Nick Schofield as the dysfunctional policemen gave manic performances that complimented and fed off each other - with their slapstick and confused crosstalk bringing to mind old routines from the days of the Music Hall or those of Abbot and Costello / Martin and Lewis.

Both Richard Conolly and Emily Gallichan suffered the indignity of having to be manhandled by the policemen. Conolly, having been knocked out with a truncheon, was stuffed into a cupboard whilst Gallichan after fainting was bundled through a window and dumped into a wicker basket. Good performances from both actors.

Almost stealing the show was Louise Gregory’s Gronya. Gregory provided a grotesque figure whose bigotry and viciousness was as frightening as it was funny. Tattooed, clad in black leather, wearing Doc Martens and a studded collar she was the epitome of a certain class of society. All that was missing was the obligatory bull terrier. Her squeezing the officers’ scrotums was so realistic that I found my eyes watering in sympathy.

The only downside to the evening was the member of the audience who, obviously enjoying the production, allowed the constant braying laugh that he was blessed with to intrude. Its loudness distracted and its length often meant that subsequent lines were obliterated.

Barrie Jerram