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Review: Corpse!, at Park 90 Theatre

12 March, 2020 — By Jack Courtney O’Connor

Paul Kemp and Tom York in Corpse! Photo: Anna Urik

IN theatrical slang “to corpse” is to spoil a piece of acting by laughing uncontrollably; luckily for the actors, it was the punters who were laughing uncontrollably at Clive Brill’s revival of Corpse!

Gerald Moon’s play premiered in 1983 at the American Stage Festival Theatre, Milford,
New Hampshire. It later transferred to London and Broadway with Keith Baxter and Milo O’Shea.

This revival is a high camp retreat into a bygone world of the English whodunnit with more than a bit of Carry on Camping.

It’s set in London, December 1936, on the day of King Edward’s abdication.

We are introduced to the main character, an out of work “ham” actor and a cad, followed by a lascivious landlady, a dopey Irish conman and an upper-class snob. All stock characters in a whodunnit pot-boiler.

Tom York, of Poldark fame, is making his professional stage debut playing the actor Evelyn Farrant and his excessively rich twin brother Rupert. Evelyn flirts with his landlady, Mrs McFee (Felicity Duncan), to avoid paying the rent and employs a petty crook and bogus major (Paul Kemp) to kill his snobbish brother.

Evelyn aims to impersonate him and acquire his fortune. The major accepts his offer of £10,000 to murder Rupert. However, Evelyn has a devious plan to incriminate the major and have all the lolly himself.

The second act is pure farce with bodies falling out of cupboards and the presence of London bobby Harkins (John Hastings) joining the mayhem.

Brill’s production moves at a terrific pace. York is superb as the terrible twins, as is Duncan as Mrs M and Kemp’s bogus major, who is delightfully confused, maintaining his Dublin accent throughout, and Hastings is an enjoyable flatfoot.

Until March 28
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