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Vulcan 7

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh 
Three stars

An actor’s life can go in many ways. Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer’s co-written vehicle for themselves makes this abundantly clear in their portrayal of a couple of old luvs who left Rada at the same time and end up reluctantly reunited in Iceland on the set of the latest instalment of the hokey sci-fi franchise that gives the play its title.

The difference is that where Planer’s Hugh Delavois is a cast regular and impeccably bland example of a very English form of thespian, Edmondson’s Gary Savage is a hard-drinking loose cannon who once flew high with the Hollywood bad boys. Now, alas, Savage has crashed back down to earth with a bump and a one-line bit-part as an unlikely alien monster with an outfit that makes 1970s Dr Who appear sophisticated.

Out of this comes a bittersweet comedy of late-life ennui among the creative classes seen through a trailer darkly even as things take a real-life seismic turn that puts both men on the edge in every way. With Lois Chimimba’s film set runner Leela a put-upon foil, Edmondson and Planer’s odd couple are revealed as two sides of the same coin who over-compensate like crazy in their desperation for everyday happiness.

Steve Marmion’s touring production that began life at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford uses an appropriately apocalyptic-sounding Bjork soundtrack to usher us into designer Simon Higlett’s increasingly off-kilter trailer which forms the play’s sole setting. With this in place, Hugh and Gary’s co-dependent sparring is a classic Brit-com set-up. If a running gag about Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t quite scale the dizzy heights of hilarity in the play’s take on artifice, identity and existential dread, for those who came of age watching Edmondson and Planer as 1980s student union anarchists might stumble on a few home truths that remain troublingly familiar.

The Herald, November 6th 2018

ends



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