Review: Corpse!

3 star rating
Gerald Moon's inventive and twist-filled comedy thriller gets an economical, if rather cramped revival that still surprises, but the comedy is underwhelming, dated and laboured.
Corpse! at Park Theatre

Image courtesy Park Theatre


Theatre: Park Theatre

Closes here: Tuesday 17 March 2020

Author:
Gerald Moon

Director:
Clive Brill

Cast:

Tom York as Evelyn and Rupert

Paul Kemp as Major Powell

Felicity Duncan as Mrs McGee

John Hastings as Hawkins


Synopsis


Evelyn Farrant - actor - is exceedingly poor.


Rupert Farrant - his twin - is excessively rich.


There seems to be only one solution.


Evelyn must kill Rupert and inherit his wealth.


The time: the eve of Edward VIII's abdication speech.

The reluctant accomplice: Major Ambrose Powell

The essential grumpy landlady: Mrs McGee.

The likely prospect? Macabre comedy mayhem ....


Background


Don't miss out on a major revival of this brilliant comedy thriller which has had successful runs in the West End, Broadway and has played across the globe.


It rightfully takes its place in the pantheon of sharp and witty whodunnits alongside Sleuth and Deathtrap.


From the producer of Park90 hit, Black Chiffon.


ActDrop reviews


Peter Brown

Performance date: Thursday 5 March 2020
Review star rating image

Premiered back in 1983, Gerald Moon's inventive and twist-filled comedy thriller gets an economical revival by director Clive Brill in Park Theatre's smaller venue, Park 90.


Beth Colley's set design requires some similarly astute invention in order to shoe-horn two quite different locations into the relatively compact space available and does so with commendable ingenuity.


That adds to the many unexpected and convoluted twists in a play which has received considerable acclaim in its near four decade history.


But the endeavour as a whole feels constrained in this compact venue to the extent that even a bed has to be cut-down to almost infant proportions.


The plot encapsulates an immediately appealing idea that defies the usual stereotype we normally associate with a particular close bond.


The characteristics often ascribed to twins - such as being inseparable, knowing each other's thoughts and the like - are discarded here completely.


That makes the basic set-up all the more intriguing and unexpected with a pair of estranged identical twins who are completely different both in terms of their nature and financial status.


Tom York gets the plum (and highly demanding) task of describing both twins, Evelyn and Rupert Farrant.


Evelyn is a rather fay actor who is almost permanently 'resting' (and therefore usually broke) but has a penchant for the finer things in life and swans around town dressed as a wealthy woman in order to steal expensive food and beverages from swanky restaurants.


With his landlady Mrs McGee (Felicity Duncan) demanding her rent - and readily willing to accept payment in kind - Evelyn has hatched a plot to kill his brother and get his paws on his sibling's riches.


However, he requires assistance to pull-off his scheme and enlists (at short notice) the efforts of a petty criminal who goes by the name of Major Powell, and who finds himself the dupe of Evelyn's dastardly plans.


Those are merely the bare bones of Evelyn's scheme - there are many shifts of direction in this complex plot to surprise in abundance, even if some of the later twists seem a touch odd.


However, there's no denying that the basic concept in the story is elegantly neat in terms of both simplicity and plausibility.


And there's clearly inherent entertainment value in the need for 1 actor to play both twins, requiring carefully orchestrated action and quick-fire behind-the-scenes costume changes which Tom York effects with considerable panache.


The many elements of surprise, though, are sadly not matched by the comedy.


Given Evelyn's thespian background, the play is liberally littered with theatrical gags which the first night audience obviously warmed to, but may be lost on many.


However, Paul Kemp's well-worked, haplessly confused Major does deliver some laugh-out-loud moments in the closing stages.


If you haven't seen it before, Corpse! still has surprises in store to provide an undemanding evening out but the comedy is largely underwhelming, feeling dated and laboured too.



ActDrop listing for Park Theatre
Our show listing for Corpse!
Read our reviews' policy

Book tickets for ...


Buy tickets for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre