Living a Little – King’s Head Theatre, London

Writer: Finlay Bain
Director: Jordan Murphy
Reviewer: Stephen Bates

“What’s the point of surviving if you’re not going to live a little?” asks Finlay Bain’s irreverent hour-long post-apocalyptic comedy. This is the philosophy of Rob and Paul, survivors who are holed up in a chaotic flat as the world outside falls apart. Their strategy becomes to party like there is no tomorrow, accepting that there probably isn’t one.

tell-us-block_editedScotland has been conquered by zombies, the undead who only have to bite the living to conscript them to their ranks.

Rob (played by the writer), swinging a baseball bat with the aggression of a modern day William Wallace, regards Paul (Paul Thirkell) as a replacement for the beloved pet dog that his father killed for being gay. Paul is not gay but, being very camp, he is the closest thing to it. When Paul is interrupted by an intruder while quietly pleasuring himself, the flatmates’ cosy sanctuary is shaken.

The new arrival, sabre-wielding Penelope (Pearl Appleby), has found marauding gangs of survivors and participants in The X Factor more threatening than the zombies. The boys offer their guest the luxuries of a shower and baked beans (both cold), before bringing out the stronger substances. Laddish Rob and straight-laced, fussy Paul approach Penelope in very different ways, sparking much of the comedy in the lead up to a no-holds-barred party. Paul’s slow reaction to a drink spiked by Rob, as a tenor sings Con te partirò, is a gem of physical comedy in the middle of the raucous revelries.

There is an air of the band playing on while the Titanic sinks, but Bain manages to keep sombre themes bubbling under the surface without allowing them to drag the comedy down. He finds humour in dark, unexpected places and director Jordan Murphy’s production fizzes like the lager in cans hoarded by Rob, uncaring that survivors outside are dying of thirst. The actors to find the perfect balance between hilarity and pathos. This is a case of living a little and laughing a lot.

Runs until 14 May 2017 | Image: Contributed

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