Never Mind the Botox*** (White Bear Theatre)

Posted: March 6, 2014 in Theatre

Never-Mind-the-Botox2This review was originally written for The Public Reviews:

Welcome to Evergreen’s, a clinic in deepest Essex where youth and beauty can be restored at the stroke of a scalpel, Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror plays on a loop and floors may be a little dusty because the vacuum cleaner is being used for liposuction procedures. Nick Reed’s new farce at first seems Ortonesque, but the name of the resident surgeon, Dr Longadonga, gives a clue that the humour is likely to be more in the vein of the Carry on films. When Amy (Georgia Darell), a plain Jane, scornfully accompanies her vampish mother Wendy (Lesley Moloney) to the clinic for a face lift, she also bumps into her father (David Skynner), in for a hair transplant, her ex-boyfriend (Matthew Fraser Holland), getting a penis enlargement, and her uncle (Alex Harland), dropping by for his regular Botox booster jabs and piling up Nectar points in the process. Mishaps and mistaken identities ensue, played with forced zaniness and peppered with smart one-line gags.  Dr L (Mike Goodenough) is an obese drunk, who dreams of becoming a vet and the clinic is run by his wife Christina, played by Liza Callinicos, who gives a deliciously funny performance. Wearing a permanent false smile and showing zero tact, her interest in the patients is purely financial and, when one of them makes a complaint, she retorts “I’m too busy to feign interest”. She fawns over a journalist (Ewen Mackintosh) who turns up to write a review of the clinic, making it pretty well certain that the procedure which he undergoes will have a disastrous outcome. This sort of material, with one-dimensional characters and a nonsense plot, often only works in short comedy sketches, becoming tiresome when stretched out for longer. So it comes as a pleasant surprise that Nick Reed keeps it bubbling for almost two hours (with interval). Largely, this is due to splendid comic timing by all the performers who deliver the rapid-fire jokes, some of them very funny, with precision. If this play was to become a meaningful satire on the modern day obsession with looks, its scalpel would need to be sharper and its incisions would need to go a lot deeper. As it is, it probably will not linger in the memory for too long, but it is a lot of fun while it lasts.

Performance date: 5 March 2014

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