Review: Living a Little

4 star rating
A melange of liberally brash, off-beat humour laced with a fairly hefty dollop of tragedy for good measure, provides an enjoyably fun and funny evening's entertainment.
Living a Little at King's Head Theatre

Image: King's Head Theatre

Closes here: Sunday 14 May 2017

Finlay Bain

Jordan Murphy


Finlay Bain (Rob)

Pearl Appleby (Penelope)

Paul Thirkell (Paul)


With not a zombie in sight, we are taken into a sanctuary of normality while the outside world rots …

In a secure and stockpiled flat complete with a TV, a sound system, video games and enough alcohol to host a Scottish wedding, we meet best mates Rob, an ill-mannered, politically incorrect Scottish lad and Paul, the gayest straight man ever.

The arrival of battle hardened Penelope disrupts the status quo as she challenges their way of life whilst seeking relative comfort and safety after living out in the wild of a zombie apocalypse.

Penelope may be a fighter and a survivor, but what’s the point of surviving if you're not going to live a little?


The 2017 VAULT Festival Origins Award winning, Riot House Theatre with the creators of the smash hit Trainspotting Live, In Your Face Theatre, present Living a Little by Finlay Bain.

Origins Award Outstanding New Work VAULT Festival.

ActDrop reviews

Peter Brown

Monday 10 April 2017
Review star rating image for 3 stars

Most plays work towards a climax.

But this raucous assemblage from the pen of Finlay Bain actually starts with one of the characters trying to achieve one on his own account (think about it a bit).

The play essentially poses a dilemma - what would you do if the world had gone mad, civilised society and its associated conveniences had completely broken down and your very existence threatened?

Would you be sensible and save your resources for the future, or would you throw care to the winds and just have a bloody good time while you could, or as the title of this play puts it, 'live a little'?

At some unspecified time, zombies are running amok and rule the world.

If bitten by one of them, 'normal' people become infected and turn into the dreaded creatures we so love to hate - well, as long as they're confined to TV series, films or books.

For most sensible types, the order of the day is to find some form of sanctuary and eek out a miserable existence without the usual conveniences of life, like electricity.

But Rob and Paul have a flat which can be barricaded in order to prevent blood-sucking, human-nibbling zombies from entering, and they also have electricity thanks to solar panels which provide them with all their toys and essentials, including videos and ice cubes.

So, porn and cocktails are often on the agenda for this squabbling, unlikely duo who seem to be at each other's throats, more often than not.

And that's hardly surprising given they are about as different in terms of personality as proverbial chalk and cheese.

Rob is obviously the dominant force in this strangely robust bonding.

Rippling with pumped-up muscles, he's unbearably loud, overbearingly mischievous and irritatingly provocative.

His flatmate Paul doesn't do drugs, is loyal to his (missing) girlfriend and is, as Rob describes him "really camp".

The game-changer that puts a substantial dent in what seems like a pretty tolerable kind of existence for these two is when Penelope bursts in and promptly attacks Paul.

She's been out in the big wide world facing-up to the zombies and doesn't take kindly to the idea of Paul and Rob languishing in relative, even substantial comfort.

She provides an added dynamic in the contrast department which builds on what already exists between Rob and Paul.

Initially scathing about the men's lifestyle, Penelope nevertheless easily succumbs when tempted with dubiously-concocted cocktails and ecstasy.

Though the show is skewed more towards comedy than drama, the latter is certainly much more than mere zest, providing neat shifts of emphasis and elements of surprise (and sometimes respite) in Mr Bain's well-written, novel script.

The ending is a tad on the predictably sentimental side for my palate, but it's nevertheless a logical development from everything that precedes it, and there's well-drawn characterisation from a top-notch cast, plus tightly-controlled direction from Jordan Murphy.

A melange of liberally brash, off-beat humour laced with a fairly hefty dollop of tragedy for good measure, and a few twists along the way, provide an enjoyably fun and funny evening's entertainment.

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