Saturday, 7 March 2020

CORPSE! @ The Park Theatre

CORPSE! @ The Park Theatre

Gerald Moon's CORPSE! premiered back in 1983 in the states before coming to London in 1984. Over three decades later and it remains an entertaining farce that feels very much of its time.

The play is set on the eve of Edward VIII's abdication speech in 1936, though its plot is far removed. It sees actor Evelyn Farrant - an eccentric and flamboyant Tom York - plotting to kill his twin brother Rupert - also York, in more poised and sophisticated mode - with the help of bumbling drunk criminal Major Powell (Paul Kemp). What follows is a farcical whodunnit that takes double-crossing to the extreme with its twin brothers conceit - the characters are never quite sure who they're talking to, and neither are we.

There are barely concealed homoerotic undertones to it all. Evelyn epitomises the camp effeminate actor, all charm and faux refinement in his rundown bohemian flat - especially compared with his straight(laced) and rich twin. When he poses as his brother, Evelyn literally recedes into the closet. Perhaps it's all a metaphor for gay revenge, for gay men to take centre stage yet closeting themselves in the process.

More so it's a play about acting, written by an actor, for actors. Evelyn readily quotes Shakespeare - the plot is given away by its allusions to Hamlet - and the script is full of self-deprecating jokes about actors likely to have regular theatre-going audiences guffawing. The knowingness of it all, though, does eventually become tiresome.

This particular production is well realised, with a strong central performance from York that clearly delineates the two brothers. Director Clive Brill includes some clever recurrences and deftly handles York's amusing switches of characters to keep us on our toes. And while Beth Colley's staging initially seems cramped, it's soon revealed to be an ingenious revolve.

It all amounts to a silly but fun play that draws a thin line between old fashioned and nostalgic.


Watch: CORPSE! runs at the Park Theatre until 28th March.

CORPSE! @ The Park Theatre

CORPSE! @ The Park Theatre
Photos: Anna Urik