Review: The Crumple Zone

4 star rating
Another chance to catch Buddy Thomas's play in a pacy new version from Robert McWhir, providing an eminently watchable and entertaining alternative to panto-based festive shows.
The Crumple Zone at King's Head Theatre

Image: King's Head Theatre

Closes here: Sunday 9 December 2018

Buddy Thomas

Robert McWhir


Nick Brittain - Alex

Robbie Capaldi - Buck

Natash Edwards - Sam

Lucas Livesey - Terry

Fanox Xenofos - Roger


Taking place in a Staten Island apartment over the Christmas holiday season, this hilarious comedy gives a fly-on-the-wall perspective when four friends and a mystery visitor find themselves in just one apartment.

ActDrop reviews

Peter Brown

Performance date: Monday 26 November 2018
Review star rating image

Buddy Thomas's The Crumple Zone got its UK premiere back in December 2016 with Lambco Productions presenting the show as is the case with this latest version, now playing for the early part of the festive season at the King's Head Theatre.

When I reviewed the previous version, the show was brought to an early end when one of the actors unfortunately fell ill during the final stages of the performance.

I'd seen enough, though, to realise that this crisply-written play has much to offer in both the comedy and drama departments.

Thankfully, the show on this occasion suffered no untimely interventions from fate.

Director Robert McWhir is back in confident charge for this pacy new version which, in comparison with the former outing, introduces a significant character change - that is if my memory serves correctly.

Christmas might be the season of peace and good will towards all human kind, but there's not a lot of peace and harmony in the Staten Island apartment where the action for this play takes place.

Alex and Terry - both actors who currently find themselves slaving in poorly paid, non-stage jobs to pay the rent - are the tenants.

Terry serves in a diner and Alex is temporarily working as a Santa in a shopping mall.

Alex has a girlfriend who is currently away on tour, and while she's out of the picture he's having a fling with Buck who also works at the mall.

Inevitably, revelations and subsequent conflict materialise when Sam fetches up for the Christmas festivities.

The comedy here is driven largely by Lucas Livesey's excellently described Terry, a self-deprecating individual with a ready wit and sharp tongue who describes himself as "a supporting character in his own life".

When a play gets a repeat showing it's tempting to think that it might not reach the same standard as before, or provide little in the way of anything new.

That's not the case here.

With a new and capable cast, this presentatiion feels totally fresh, with a noticeable increase in tempo that provides a significant edge to both the writing and the overall playing.

And Robert McWhir further injects fresh perspectives with the change of character gender for Sam - well played by Natasha Edwards.

The Crumple Zone provides an eminently watchable and entertaining alternative to the adult pantos which turn up at this time of year, largely thanks to the rich vein of humour in Buddy Thomas's engagingly realistic and humorous dialogue.

Additionally, there's a significant layer of underlying dramatic meat on the comedic bones of this play, which encompasses themes that have wider applicability beyond the largely gay characters we meet.

If you didn't manage to see it last time round, it's definitely worth catching.

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