THEATRE REVIEW: Dead Funny ★★★
14th January 2017
Vaudeville Theatre, London
Celebrating the classics of comedy through the decades, this production centre’s around the Dead Funny Society, who all come together regularly to celebrate the classic comedians such as Tommy Cooper, Morecambe and Wise, and Benny Hill, who really is the heart of the play as the meeting they have in this instance is to celebrate the life of this brilliant comic following the death of Benny Hill. Written in 1994 originally by Terry Johnson, this revival is undeniably brilliant because all the cast seem to fit into these characters with so much ease that it feels like their personas were written for them.
The writing is this production is incredibly strong due to the balance of comedy and serious topics that arise, and even though everyone is grieving in their own way on stage, it is the character of Ellie, portrayed beautifully by Katherine Parkinson, who seems to be the way who is suffering the most due to her estranged relationship with her husband Richard (Rufus Jones). There was a fantastic moment in the second act where all the characters on stage are going around giving out their favourite jokes to cheer themselves up, and it was only Ellie, a woman who really scorns comedy itself, who really got the audience, and not to mention myself, bursting out with laughter at her story about a woman who either had Alzheimer’s or Aids. It was a true testament to Parkinson’s comic timing but also how genuine the character of Ellie was written.
The performances from all involved where heightened so much that especially in this world which we are in within a political state of mind feels like theatre like Dead Funny is exactly what we need to have a brilliant laugh and distract ourselves from the outside situations, and if Dead Funny was written for today’s era we would be seeing the likes of Victoria Wood, The Two Roonies, and Sacha Baron Cohen’s incredible styles of comedy resonating on stage.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this production of Dead Funny to due its wittiness and genuine heartfelt characters produced on stage, so much that I would funny encourage anyone with just a hint of funny in their bones to go and watch this splendid production as it will really make you laugh and appreciate the true greats of comedy.