Aug 18 2022 | By More

★★★☆☆       Energetic

Greenside @ Infirmary St (Venue 236): Mon 15 – Sat 20 Aug 2022
Review by Hugh Simpson

Broadsword Theatre’s Contact has a vitality that overcomes its drawbacks. At Greenside @ Infirmary Street for one week only, the play is a tonal mish-mash that nevertheless has substantial appeal.

The heart can so often sink at a stage show being described as ‘comedy horror’; it is a difficult balance to pull off, and usually ends up having very little of either.

A scene from Contact. Pic: Broadsword Productions

Here, however, there is much of each genre in evidence. Despite an over-reliance on cheap laughs, there is real comedic value in Sam Eastop’s script, and the more horrific elements achieve considerable atmosphere on an obviously small budget.

It is probably best not to dwell too long on the logic or otherwise of the tale of a dietary-supplement company’s call centre and its infiltration by a ‘demon ghost alien’.

The more fantastic elements are followed through much more rigorously than the more mundane elements of office politics, company ethics and the struggles of a soul-crushing job in complaints, which are treated half-heartedly, if not unbelievably. The end, meanwhile, is a definite disappointment.

There is a real energy to the cast, however. Eastop’s Kieran, much more interested in looking at the pictures in Men’s Health than doing his job, is a pleasingly spiteful yet largely sympathetic character.

otherworldly air

Rachel Johnstone’s flaky Debbie (who wants to make a living carving poetry into bars of soap) has a suitably otherworldly air, while Louise Brooks gives ‘new start’ Lisa a grounded element that helps with the character’s development.

Alex Cook, meanwhile, has a manic edge as team leader Richard that is reminiscent of many classic comic actors of years past. At times he overdoes the gurning, but his ‘man always on the edge of hyperventilating’ has more than a touch of Basil Fawlty about it, and shows real flair.

Martha Lochhead’s direction is considered and well paced, with good use being made of a tiny acting space and minimal props. Stuart Tweedie’s tech operation is first class, with the ‘your call is important to us’ countdown before the play starts a particularly neat touch.

In the end, this is all fairly inconsequential, but it is done with good humour and vigour that it is impossible to dislike.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
Greenside @ Infirmary St (Olive Theatre), 6 Infirmary St, EH1 1LT (Venue 236)
Monday 15 – Saturday 20 August 2022
Daily at 13.55.
Information and tickets: Book here.

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