POPCORN by BEN ELTON – KINGSTON BAGPUIZE DRAMA GROUP
Popcorn by Ben Elton is a strange play, with its gratuitous violence, strong language (in abundance) and ‘adult content’. Does art imitate life? This possibly is a snapshot of life in the ganglands of America. Bruce shoots movies. Wayne and Scout shoot to kill. In a single night they find out the hard way what’s real and what’s not, who’s the hero and the villain. That sets the scene for the play.
The set, in fact, was simple, but good giving an impression of the opulent Hollywood-style home of Bruce Delamitri, where things are not as peaceful as one may think. Good use was made of the split level stage, as well as short scenes performed outside the curtains. Bruce, having fallen out with his estranged wife over a divorce settlement on the eve of the Oscars, actually wins an ‘Oscar’, against the odds. Bruce (Sydney Hicks) returns with his escort for the evening, to find that his home has been invaded by two gangsters, Wayne and Scout played superbly by Robert Hall and Emily Joyce. It was not easy to keep the threat and menace going but they managed to do so at a cracking pace. Their violent attacks on various members of the household were intimidating and convincing. The reaction of all to the shootings was competently handled. The suspense was well maintained and the shift of power, one to another, was ably handled. The awkwardness of Bruce and his family, when faced with the terrifying situation of being hostages was well portrayed. Brooke (Sarah Curran) was good when in control of the situation, up to her final shooting. Farrah Delamitri (Andrea Spencer) was also strong when in control and was ably supported by her daughter Velvet (Jean Hignell). The climax of the play was very clever and expertly executed (!).
The final line-up and epilogue was unexpected, but effective and gave a chance for the scantily-clad camera crew (Matt Bassett and Steve Hudson) to speak, much to the delight of the female members of the audience
The American accents, on the whole were effectively maintained, which is not easy and it was interesting to hear the difference between the southern states accents of Wayne and Scout and the quicker clipped more northern accents of the rest of the cast and it was good that none of them ‘caught’ the other’s accent.
In summary, a difficult play which was well produced by Nick O’Keefe and congratulations are due to all the cast for an entertaining evening.