By: Orlando Gibbs
In 2013 Orlando Gibbs spent a brief car journey with Australian cricketing spin bowling legend, Shane Warne. Gibbs was driven to his home to tutor Warne’s then partner’s (Elizabeth Hurley) child. This comedy show is not exactly that story, but a larger, fabricated, tale of what may have happened if Warne and Gibbs were hounded on the trip by a vengeful tabloid press and the paparazzi.
A hand out is given to the audience with the photos and details of all the main protagonists in the play so we can keep up with the action: Hurley, Warne feature as does News of the World editors Andy Coulson, Colin Myler and X Factor winner Shane Ward. From here we watch as a tale of deception and betrayal unfold in a very comedic fashion.
Gibbs juxtaposes his English geekiness with Warne’s antipodean rock god status. When the cricketer comes to collect him, the teacher is humming along to hymns on his mp3 player and does not make a good first impression, but soon they settle into the journey and an awkward but friendly alliance is created within the car.
The crowd learn some sage advice from “Warnie” as the night goes on, most of it made up for the show. However, Gibbs places a truth bell into the performance which rings every time a statement was actually said on their real trip, the most useful tidbit being how to successfully drink a beer.
Inhabiting many characters throughout the piece Gibbs really shines as a comedic performer. His portrayal of the downtrodden paper photographer, Kevin, garners many laughs as does his characterisation of Andy Coulson, played as a Harry Potter-esque master villain. When Mr Coulson bursts into song it is a fabulous surprise leading to waves of giggles in the room, proving Gibbs is a talented singer too. His rendering of a group of school children gossiping about Warnes life is also wonderful.
Although Gibbs has to stop at a couple of places, as he gets lost in the play, he is a captivating actor who holds the gathering well and entertains easily. The wordiness and speed of the piece is impressive but most of all it hangs together well as a story and hits the laughs in all the right places.
Weaving in themes from Homers’ Odyssey and the use of embellishment to gain favour in social environments, the piece has a meaningful undertone, but needn’t be taken so deeply as it is simply funny.
As the story progresses we see an increasingly enraged Coulson try and ruin Warnes’ life, Kevin the paparazzi have an epiphany and Warne and Gibbs head to the UK’s tallest Travelodge to hide out from the press.
This is an accomplished display of one person comedy, a fabulous watch and a warm hearted show well worth spending your money on .
Reviewed on 4th June