Life with Oscar

Nicholas Cohen
Golden Idol Productions
Arcola Theatre, London

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Nicholas Cohen Credit: G Taylor
Nicholas Cohen Credit: G Taylor

Insider stories of Hollywood often treat us to tales of scandal, dubious deals and the weird eccentricities of the super-rich. There are certainly touches of that in Nicholas Cohen’s confident comic account of a journey from an excited child at a London dinner, where he pestered a producer to let him play Superboy in an upcoming movie of Superman, to his eventual trip to LA for several months in the hopes of selling his script Lifesaver about a young girl at a swimming pool.

In seventy minutes, he conjures up many characters and brief scenes linked together simply by our lively narrator chasing what he thinks are amusing anecdotes.

Unfortunately, there is no dramatic tension, no reality to the cartoon characters he voices and only the slightest humour in his cascade of disconnected memories.

He won a “scholarship to a fancy school” also attended by Jude Law, who was “getting off with my girlfriend.” Later, he went to university where Rachel Weisz was “getting off with my girlfriend.” We don’t hear any more about Jude, Rachel or his girlfriend. Like much of the show, the lines are there for the laughs.

Arriving in LA, he briefly takes us to 1929 and Emilio Fernandez claiming that Hollywood star Dolores del Río introduced him to Cedric Gibbons, who got him to model for the trophy known as the Oscar. Fernandez suggests the trophy would be better named the Emilio. It's an interesting snippet that might have led to something about Hollywood racism, but it is left as just another floating anecdote.

As Cohen settles into LA, he smokes dope with others in the industry, visits the disturbing Ron who fills his home with “expensive horrific art” and says “I am Berlusconi”.

We are told Ron likes “weird sex” with young women, who consume for the occasion enough drugs to sometimes “have to leave the state.”

Again, it's just a bit of fleeting gossip that harks back to a time when the tabloids thought the sexual harassment of vulnerable women by ruthless Hollywood moguls was simply entertainment.

The show ends as it began. There has been no moral or dramatic journey. The caricatured voices of its characters are unreal, even if Cohen gives them a clear delivery. The humour of after-dinner anecdotes make an often dry, slight stand-up comedy that lacks plot and consistent purpose.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna

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