It’s a fact, from now on; November the 13th will forever be known and celebrated as Dick Day. In years to come families will gather, friends will send cards and parties shall be thrown in honour of Eric Idle’s Dick. That is, Idle’s latest offering ‘What About Dick’, a staged radio play starring Tim Curry, Billy Connolly, Eddie Izzard, Russell Brand, Tracey Ullman, Sophie Winkleman, Jim Piddock, Jane Leeves and Mr Idle himself. This magnificently talented cast full of wonderful actors and comedians gathered together back in April and over four consecutive nights they performed to sold-out houses at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. Dick Day marked the release of the show as a digital download and I was lucky enough to attend the UK Premiere at the Sir Richard Steele pub (re-named the Sir Dick Steele for the evening of course). The event was in association with the Monkey Business Comedy Club and comprised of a screening of ‘What About Dick’, an attempt to get as many men named Dick as possible in one room (I’m not sure how many they got!) and then all this was followed by Spotted Dick and custard. A totally bizarre event Mr Idle would no doubt be proud of.
‘What About Dick’ began life as a screenplay entitled ‘The Remains of The Piano’ described at the time as ‘a demolition of every Miramax Movie ever made’. The funding never came together for the project, but with the help of several backers Idle was finally able to rework the piece as a staged radio play and it was first performed in LA in 2007. Following a few re-writes and some added songs Idle staged the play once more in April 2012 in order to record the event for release. The plot is bizarre and hilarious as one would expect from Idle. I know it isn’t de rigueur to talk about the plot of something in a review – but it is so utterly insane and even the cast claim it is ‘impossible to tell the story’ – so I thought I’d have a go – if nothing else to whet your appetite and encourage you to purchase a copy of this madcap gem.
It is essentially, Idle says, the story of ‘the decline and fall of the British Empire as seen through the eyes of a piano’. Idle narrates the story as a piano (it’s his f*cking play and he’ll play a piano if he wants to) and we hear the story of Dick (Russell Brand) and his family intermingled with flashbacks to Colonial India where we see Deepak Obi Ben Kingsley (Eddie Izzard) inventing the first ever sex toy. Meanwhile Dick and Reverend Whoopsie (Tim Curry) find a piano washed up on a beach during their camping trip and Whoopsie decides to give it as a gift to the working classes. The piano is presented to a working class man named Leonard Bastard (Brand) and his wife Enid (Tracey Ullman) who works as an Asstrologer. The piano is stolen by Dick’s cousin Helena (Sophie Winkleman) who when not stealing umbrella’s to repress her sexual urges, longs to have her very own ‘PnO’. Alongside all of this there’s even a love story between Emma Schlegel (Jane Leeves) and Mr Hudson (Izzard) and a murderer known as the Houndsditch Mutilator on the loose – bringing Inspector McGuffin (Billy Connolly) on the scene who is simultaneously trying to catch the killer and track down Leonard Bastard’s stolen piano.
Would you believe me if I said that was only skimming the plot? Well it is. This is a remarkably talented cast and a once in a lifetime opportunity to see such a stellar line up working together. The songs are witty, catchy and at times downright filthy and the fun the performers are clearly having is infectious. Do yourself a favour grab a copy and get your hands on Idle’s Dick while you can!
Digital Download just $6 from: www.whataboutdick.com