Manchester-based theatre company New Attitude are well known on the fringe scene in Manchester. Their first production for 2013 is a comedy double bill on this week at The Kings Arms. It kicks off with prison-based comedy Do Me a Favour.
In Do Me a Favour, banged up gangster boss Ben recruits his henchman Bill to do a series of increasingly bizarre favours on the outside – with increasingly hilarious consequences.
A wonderfully gruff Dickie Patterson plays grassed up Ben and spends most of the one-act play agog at how dim his hapless henchman Bill (Peter Ash) is. Both actors work well together; Patterson’s commanding performance being terrifically intimidating at times. Ash meanwhile hits the comedic notes as Bill’s actions get all the more out-of-hand.
Trevor Suthers (JB Shorts) has written an amusing two-hander with some fun wordplay, and as Patterson and Ash get into the rhythm, some rather funny moments.
However, Do Me a Favour overstays its welcome slightly. The ending could be tighter and slicker and is surprisingly downbeat for the plays comic tone. The addition of Ben’s girlfriend Trixie could have provided more hilarity to proceedings given her storyline.
This said, Do Me a Favour is worth it alone for one scene about halfway though. I won’t spoil it here, but the look on Peter Ash’s face as Patterson declares a certain action he’s taken is worth the price of entry alone.
Fly by Night meanwhile, sees ageing rock star Lucian hit rock bottom. After a disasterous gig in a back street pub, he and his entourage rush to catch a night flight to Europe. But as the years of excess baggage rise to the surface, who will reach their final destination?
Peter Abbott’s selfish and delusional Lucian is the driving force behind this play. Delightfully irritating, his ignorance of everything (including his failure) is a delight to watch.
The ever-reliable Neil Ashton appears as Lucian’s long-suffering manager Zack and provides a more human side to Lucian’s tantrums.
Samuel Thompson plays Lucian’s son, Gabriel, and aptly conveys the feeling of being taken advantage of. The highlight of his and Abbott’s performance being an extraordinarily blunt and affecting scene towards the climax.
Emmy Fyles completes the quarter as the furtive and mysterious Michaela binding this disparate bunch together with her ethereal presence. The four work well together; Fyles especially convincingly flits in and out the main trio.
Writer Jayne Marshall’s dark script is tightly written and well directed by Brainne Edge. However, the more astute viewers will know what’s coming if they’re paying attention. However, as the tagline for the play says, “It’s not the destination, but the journey.” Fortunately in this case, the journey most certainly is worth it.
Overall, another double hit from this forward-thinking theatre company. Recommended.
New Attitude’s double bill runs until 22 February at Salford’s Kings Arms. Tickets on the door if not sold out, or available on the website.