Wet Weather Cover

Oliver Cotton
King's Head
(2010)

Publicity photo

Actor Oliver Cotton has stuck to familiar ground in his debut as a playwright. Wet Weather Cover plays itself out in a cross-sectioned caravan, miraculously imported into the compact pub theatre.

This is the trailer occupied by a pair of actors on location for a schlockbuster recreating Cortes' epic trip to Mexico in pursuit of conquest for Spain in the land of Montezuma.

The play is a sitcom with pretensions to something a little more serious and by the end of 90 minutes, gives the impression of a burst dam of creativity from a writer who has long wanted to express his creative ideas.

American actor Michael Brandon plays Brad, an American actor with ideas above his station. He is caravan-proud and not above pulling rank over his English counterpart, comedian Steve Furst (AKA Lenny Beige) as Stuart

They are nearly upstaged every time the camp and incredibly temperamental Spanish dresser appears on stage, such is the comic aura surrounding Pepe Balderrama in this role.

Even so, the leads have their moments, The initial premise, two actors going stir crazy waiting for something to happen or even just the rain to stop is mined for its comic potential to good effect.

Their personalities gradually emerge, bombastic American and rather prissy Englishman but Cotton wants more from his debut play.

Therefore their debates range far and wide. The topics include national characteristics, Marlowe, the penning of Shakespeare's plays, acting styles, the emptiness of their profession and personal foibles.

This list is far from complete but indicates that Wet Weather Cover is rather too ambitious for its own good, never stopping long enough on a single topic to explore it satisfactorily.

Even so, the play is fun with a stream of jokes, many good, and some interesting ideas briefly thrown around under the guidance of actress Kate Fahy (Mrs Jonathan Pryce) making her directorial debut.

Michael Brandon, who was nominated for an Olivier when he played Jerry Springer, is probably the better actor but Steve Furst, with his monkish tonsure and British vulnerability makes a strong foil. He also has a fine line in vocal impressions, heard at its uncanny best when he suddenly produces a perfect imitation of Michael Brandon.

If you have ever acted in a movie or been seduced by the glamour of Hollywood and believed every word of the hype, Wet Weather Cover should be compulsory viewing, as it wittily turns the spotlight on to the less glamorous side of movie making.

Simon Sladen reviewed the production's transfer to the Arts Theatre

Reviewer: Philip Fisher