Review – Kiss Me Honey, Honey!

Aug 7 2013 | By More

★★★☆☆   Assured comic performances

Gilded Balloon: Sat 3 – Sat 26 Aug 2013
Review by Hugh Simpson

Mainstays of the annual King’s pantomime Andy Gray and Grant Stott are reunited at the Gilded Balloon Teviot in Kiss Me Honey, Honey!, a new two-hander written by Philip Meeks.

Andy Gray plays Ross, a bitter, alcoholic life insurance salesman who moves into a run-down bedsit next door to unworldly, self-confessed ‘failure at everything’ Graham (Stott). The two men strike up a friendship, somewhat implausibly sparked off by a mutual love of Shirley Bassey (which is why the play is named after one of her songs), and attempt to rebuild their lives. Gray and Stott also play all the roles of the various women the two men encounter, helped by a series of hats and wigs.

Andy Gray and Grant Stott in Kiss Me Honey at Gilded Balloon. Photo © Steve Ullathorne

Andy Gray and Grant Stott. Photo © Steve Ullathorne

There are really two stories going on here, markedly different in tone. The first is a low-key, somewhat touching tale of two men facing up to ageing and loss, full of reflection and pathos; the second is an extremely unlikely series of events sparked off by their search for female company, characterised by broad comedy and exaggerated female impersonation.

Gray, as you would expect, holds the audience in the palm of his hand in both strands, being alternately touching and hilarious. However, since Gray’s abilities are so well known, it is arguably Stott who makes the bigger impression here. Previously appearing on stage as a pantomime villain (not the ideal role for understatement), he is a revelation as the naïve, sheltered Graham, displaying a commendable stillness at times, allied to a thoroughly likeable, befuddled charm. The fact that he appears more at home in his contemplative moments than he does making the inevitable cheesy reference to a Ridacard suggests that he should certainly be looking at furthering his ‘serious’ acting career.

A master at taking the audience wherever he wants

Sam Kane’s direction is economical and effective, making good use of a small space and artfully using props to evoke different settings.

The main drawback to this piece is that it too obviously betrays its roots as a vehicle for these performers. Indeed, while it is easy to envisage the two of them getting a great deal of mileage out of it, it is very difficult to imagine it being performed by anyone else. The shifts in tone are already slightly jarring, even when handled by a performer like Andy Gray who is a master at taking the audience wherever he wants. The portrayals of the female characters, all presented as one-dimensional grotesques with few or no redeeming features, are already troubling even in such expert hands and could easily appear downright misogynistic.

The ‘revelations’ about the two main characters, moreover, are signposted so far off as to be pointless, while the resolution of the comic plot is utterly ludicrous. This, however, does lead to the play’s highlight, a bravura comic display by Gray involving a flurry of quick changes, which finally gives the packed auditorium the chance for the unrestrained laughter they have been waiting for, and have been denied by some of the too-obvious jokes earlier in the piece.

Running time 1 hr 15 mins
Run ends Monday 26 August
Gilded Balloon, Teviot Row House, 13 Bristo Square, Edinburgh EH8 9AJ (Venue 14)
Daily (not Mon 12 Aug) at 6.45pm
Tickets from:


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Comments (1)

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  1. wendy croll says:

    Went to see this production at the Dundee Rep on Tues 24th Sept 2013. Loved the show – Andy and Grant are brilliant actors and this story is so true to life, me and my two friends had a good giggle 🙂