Have I Got Muse For You
Old Red Lion Theatre
It is pleasing to note that the world premiere performance of Cock a Snook Theatre Company's first production played to a sell-out audience at the exceedingly hot but rather charming Old Red Lion Theatre..
Ian Regnier-Wilson's debut as a playwright is a comedy about four twentysomethings living in a shared flat. The owner, Edmond, is a remarkably geeky student whose dreams come true when the model that he falls for on the internet not only agrees to date but instantly loves him, too. Eleanor Caird sympathetically plays the catalogue model with the unlikely name of Espree and an even less likely but very dark secret.
Their affair is paralleled by that between insecure financial investor (whatever that is), Tim, and would-be pop singer but current waitress, Petra ("a sad fame-addicted wannabe").
Around these two relationships the playwright weaves all kinds of weird and wonderful plot lines. It is all too common to criticise a first playwright for putting too many ideas into a play but that seems to be the case this time as well. There are some really funny moments particularly surrounding Petra (played by stage debutante, Charlotte Atkinson). She humorously drills Edmond to be prepared to let her know whether or not she has got a recording contract. When she actually makes the grade, her squealing and subsequent gyrating demonstration of her debut single, owing much to Claire Grogan and Atomic Kitten, border on the hilarious.
The plot then becomes extremely complicated involving enough unlikely occurrences for a month on a standard soap opera. This is a shame as there are excellent flashes - for example the catty interplay between the two women as they jockey for position and discuss minor stardom and also some unexpected existential philosophy from a thoughtful if overly erudite Edmond (Robert J Francis).
Possibly with some judicious cutting to simplify the plot the play would have hung together better and been much sharper. Overall, after a rather nervous, overwritten start, there were some very entertaining scenes and also much humour, particularly as the play warmed up after the interval.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher