The Kneebone Cadillac

Carl Grose
Theatre Royal Plymouth
The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth
to

What better swansong for Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Artistic Director Simon Stokes who is leaving for pastures new?

A fourth liaison with Cornish playwright Carl Grose (Grand Guignol, Horse Piss for Blood and 49 Donkeys Hanged), Stokes’s direction of this nicely rounded, laugh-out-loud comedy is tight and a fitting finale.

Grose celebrates the ‘real’ Cornwall never seen on the screen or stage—home to the weird and wonderful, the fiercely tribal and the vagaries of life in the deepest, darkest reaches of the seemingly idyllic county. And The Kneebone Cadillac is exactly that. Populated with larger-than-life characters, daft interweaving storylines and, even if a tad predictable and with some inexplicable loose ends, this is 90 minutes of good fun.

The dysfunctional Kneebone family has buried their nasty and antagonistic father—standing up in the middle of his pride and glory, his mighty enterprise: Bob Bailey’s towering rusting scrapyard—and performed the practised "Rawhide" eulogy complete with cracking whip and cowboy boots.

Discussions turn to his legacy—a whopping great tax bill and a family legend of gold in them there hills of Arizona. Oh and appositely the shotgun to eldest son Slick, Masonic ring (entitling him to free parking in Truro) to Dwight and, strangely, his beloved rotting ‘58 Cadillac Eldorado boasted to have belonged to Elvis and won in a game of cards, to daughter Maddy. Or not his daughter as it turns out. Perhaps.

Sassy Maddy (an engaging Hannah Traylen) is the voice of reason, reeling in her wayward brothers and determined to emulate her childhood hero Phylis ‘the Banshee’ Vanloo by winning the Bank Holiday Boneshaker banger demolition derby. Callum McIntyre’s borderline manic Slick has other plans particularly patrolling the family feud lines drawn between the Kneebones and the Munroes, and defending, at gunpoint, from bailiffs the rusting empire.

Gormless failed drugs baron Dwight (Joe Wiltshire Smith) has problems of his own as the Mancunian mafia want their money—or his blood—and plans to kidnap Prince Charles are not quite panning out.

There are paternity enigmas, eccentric aunts, mystery-clad death of mum, gold mines, missing drugs, stolen copper cable, treasure maps and comedy capers as fact, fiction and boastful claims come home to roost.

As Carmageddon fast approaches, Glyn Pritchard is busy as the ghost of Jed Kneebone, his nemesis Hooper Munroe and monied Yank Duke Longhorn; Shaun Jenkinson is Dwight’s hapless sidekick Ennis (with or without a silent ‘P’) while Emily Raymond hams it up to the nth degree as Vanloo and blissfully incarcerated Aunt Loretta, keeper of the diary of secrets. And there is a brief guest appearance fresh from Hollywood.

Bonkers.

Karen Bussell