Oliver Reed: Wild Thing
Mike Davis, with Rob Crouch
Gilded Balloon Teviot
It's been over a dozen years since Oliver Reed, the last of the old Hell-raisers, succumbed to a heart attack in a Maltese bar during the filming of Gladiator. Still the fascination remains with the man whom many would consider to be the quintessential working man's actor.
It's with this fact very much in mind that we approach this biographical play on the man's life. Beginning with a swagger and and a clout, there is barely a moment in Oliver Reed: Wild Thing when the charged presence of Reed isn't practically beaming out from within Rob Crouch and his boisterously eloquent portrayal of the man.
Taking us on a whistlestop tour of Reed's life, Crouch apes the bravado and charm of old Ollie even occasionally roping members of the crown into standing in place of figures such as Alan Bates, Johnny Carson, or even the local barman. Slugging down bottle after bottle of beer on stage along with what one prays was stage booze, as the madcap exploits of his life grow more and more outlandish, Crouch allows his Ollie to lose more and more of his inhibitions, until he finally brings the soulful and raucous story to a close.
When Crouch asked the audience if we are not entertained, there really was only one answer; the rapturous applause that met him as he took his bows. A fine and fitting tribute to a larger than life figure, brilliantly realised, skilfully written and touchingly performed.