Mere Mortals

David Iver
Old Red Lion
(2004)

Mere Mortals comprises five short playlets that come in inside 90 minutes including an interval. Of these, two are excellent and well worth the admission.

The set is reminiscent of Michael Craig Martin's Pop Art rooms and does much credit to designer, Adam Stanley. Within it, the writer/director team of David Ives and Tom Edmunds are stronger on style than substance.

The first piece comprises a discussion between two volunteer caterers at a Polish American funeral. It is distinguished by clever and often amusing use of sound effects but little plot.

The next, Dr Fritz, a feverish hallucination, allows Cordelia Rayner to show her versatility as the Germanic doctor and his assistant.

The very witty and effective third, Enigma Variations, remains in a doctor's surgery. It plays variations on duplication in remarkably clever ways and demonstrates the skills of director and four cast members who are choreographed like dancers.

The first playlet after the interval is a neurotic nothing but is followed by another highlight. Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage is a spoof on Agatha Christie-style thirties murder mysteries. The cast overact to great effect, with cut-glass accents and confessions galore.

The whole is rather uneven but allows each cast member a chance or two to shine. David Ives is well served by his painstaking director. He might though, have been better advised to play to his strengths and concentrate on two or three of these pieces.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher