Pegabovine: The Slush Pile
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2006
Michael works on the Slush Pile - a pile of unsolicited manuscripts
for unpublishable novels. A comedy for anyone who's ever had
their dreams crushed in front of their eyes, and wanted to do
something about that.
This really was just delightful. It should be plonked in the theatre rather than comedy section as a smashing short play with a top-class cast of young comic actors. The action takes place over a week in the Subterranean Reading Cellar of an eccentric publishing firm. The play includes a pairing of ingénues, sweetly dim and ditsy Josie (Abby Stobart) and a pint-sized Hugh Grant-a-like - but far less mannered and irritating - Michael (Matthew Henry Johnson. Then there's hissably strident alpha-female Isabel (Frances Moulds), practically a melodramatic villainess who redeems herself eventually.
My first reaction was the acting style was a bit broad, stage-Agatha Christie, but it took about two seconds to get used to and Davis Wateracre gave a subtle and mature comic performance as the eccentric and repressed Kenneth which ought to have the RSC battering at his door, if that's what he would like.
With classic comic constructs of notes falling into the wrong hands, switched manuscripts, long undiscovered truths revealed, lovers parted and reunited and all good people reconciled at the end, its deliberately old-fashioned format had a clever, witty and charming script.
Flashbacks were enacted as the main scene is blacked out and the actors step into a cold spotlight, with sombre intonations deliberately undercut as the actors let their fingers do the walking to illustrate past tragedies.
It's enormous fun, surprisingly touching at times and didn't strike a bum note at any point. Theatrical equivalent of a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake just at the right point in the afternoon, a real pick-me-up.