ComedyReviewSouth West

Heads Will Roll – Drum, Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Created by: Told By An Idiot
Director: Paul Hunter
Reviewer: Joan Phillips

‘A complete mash-up’ of myth, children’s story, colonial history and TV soap opera is probably the best way to describe Told By An Idiot’s Heads Will Roll co-produced by Theatre Royal Plymouth.

tell-us-block_editedThis wonderfully silly idea converges the legends around the mythical city of El Dorado, ancient stories of powerful Amazonian witchcraft, the actions of violent, vengeful and jealous kings,Pissaro’s exploration of Peru in 1560, and the 1990s BBC TV soap operaEl Dorado.

You could say Heads Will Roll is a story of people’s search for love, redemption, discovery, new worlds, gold or just simply a search for ratings success and sun, sex and sangria. But it would be fruitless looking for any clear narrative in this production. Written and devised by the Told By An Idiot theatre company it is far too frivolous and fun for that thanks to the performances of the tremendously talented company.

This totally chaotic, very silly and irreverent production is anarchically performed by the all-female cast of Mercé Ribot, Patricia Rodriquez, Alicia Martel and Andrea Pelaez. What makes this evening so much fun is the hugely energetic and very physical, sometimes clown-like performances of the group to deliver some of the best physical comedy and visual gags of the year.

Played out on a set of nine small tables with a large backdrop of simplified native paintings behind, this talented foursome play out a series of ‘episodes’ to form their story that you simply can’t take your eyes away from. Rodriguez can cross her eyes more effectively than a Nigel Farage swivel-eyed loon puppet. Pelaez’ expressively flowing body movements make her at one moment a galloping horse, another a maiden princess. Ribot leaps and jumps around the set throughout, at first making the Hakka-style entrance of a predatory chief and later the pomp and conceit of a victorious conquistador. Martell’s role as composer and on-stage musical performer is outstandingly unique and eclipses her physical role.

Keeping a tight grip on all the chaos is Told By An Idiot’s artistic director, Paul Hunter. However, the whirl of activity and jumps between the interconnecting themes results in much confusion in the audience. Enjoyable certainly, but you may come away not being really sure what you’ve just seen. If you are looking for a coherent story, you won’t find one here, which means that much is lost and the whole disappointingly feels less than the sum of its excellent parts.

But the individual episodes of the evening are very funny indeed. The visual gags are superb – the mosquito is hilarious, the use of fruit inventive and the invading vegetables one of the comic highlights of the year.

Runs until 22 October 2016 then tours | Image: Contributed

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