Review – Kiss Me Honey, Honey!

October 16, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

✭✭✭✭✩  Hot duo come good

Brunton Theatre and tour Fri 4 – Sat 5 October 2013

Superlative double-act action from Grant Stott and Andy Gray ensure that this Gilded Balloon production – seen at the Brunton and touring to the King’s – is right on the button in terms of entertainment.

Grant Stott and Andy Gray. Photo © Steve Ullathorne

Stott and Gray play two men of a certain age who, through different sets of circumstances, end up at the flop-house run by a woman for whom the description “crusty old battle-axe” might well have been invented.

Both are socially inept veterans of debilitating domestic situations which, although flagged-up  with almost fastidious attention throughout the play, come as something of a revelation in the final moments of the play.

Both have inherited their fathers’ love of Shirley Bassey – although not the sexual orientation which left both fathers in compromising situations concerning their marriages.

Stott plays Graham, who returned home from the chippy to find that his mother had suddenly died and he had been kicked out of the home they had shared all his life. Gray plays Roy, an alcoholic insurance salesman, whose only contact with his own ex-wife is through their son.

Premiering during the fringe in a  70 minute version (reviewed on Æ here), this has now bumped up to close on two hours – including an interval. And by all accounts – although not having seen the original – this version gives it some of the body that it was previously lacking. Not so much the 12″ extended mix, but the full album version of which the previous was just the radio edit.

It is still, however, very much two plays spliced into one, rather like a multi-layered gateau. The fillings are out-and-out pantomime-based comedy of the type you might expect from Stott and Gray if you only knew of their theatrical exploits through the King’s panto.

The layers which give substance to the whole production.

These parts of the production show Roy and Graham out on a series of blind dates – including a memorable speed-dating sequence – in which each actor plays the other’s dates. It’s not quite the level of panto dame, but the idea of the naive Graham getting picked up by a female minister who takes him dogging gives a taste of the level of comedy.

On the other there is a sensitive piece about two men finding love and affection, and coming to terms with depths of hurt which society trains them to bury and ignore. To carry on with the cake analogy, these provide the layers of cake which give substance to the whole production.

And in these parts of the play, director Sam Kane has brought out some remarkable performances from both Gray and Stott. Remarkable not so much from Gray, who has had a string of excellent straight performances in his acting career, but from Stott, best known for his voice on the radio and being the “pus on the bus”.

Both bring sensitivity and understanding to performances that are sophisticated in their development and begin to explore elements of masculinity which are too often ignored or glibly glossed over.

The difficulty with this gateau is that the fillings are just too sweet and sugary. They play with the obvious – the corpsing and pantomime antics abound and appear to be growing as the pair play to the gallery. It’s all great fun, but it could be so much more effective with more texture and bite.

That said, it is a real treat to see the pair out on the stage on their own, making people laugh and think, without the constraints of pantomime convention to hold them back.

Running time 2 hrs 5 mins
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven St, Edinburgh, EH3 9LQ
Wed 16/Thurs 17 October 2013, 8pm.
Full details and tickets on: www.edtheatres.com

ENDS

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  1. Stott swaps studio for stage : All Edinburgh Theatre.com | January 17, 2017

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