End of the Pier @ Park Theatre*

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tickets and more information: https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/end-of-the-pier
Running until: 11th August 2018
Production Photos by: Simon Annand

End of the Pier is a new play by Danny Robins (Rudy’s Rare Records), making it’s world premiere at the Park Theatre.  The play follows Bobby, a comedian who was once reached the peak of his comedic success as part of a double act but lost it all due to telling a racist joke. Years later his son Michael, a famous, lovable comedian is caught on camera committing a racist attack. Michael turns up at Bobby’s door asking for his help to prevent the video from going viral and sabotaging his career. If theatre is supposed to hold up a handheld mirror to society, then the Park Theatre should have mirrors on the walls in the auditorium. Not only is it a play about the rise of political correctness in evolving societies, but it is also a play that poses the questions – how well do we actually know the people around us?

Les Dennis & Blake Harrison (l-r) in End of the Pier at Park Theatre. Photo by Simon Annand 0216

This play is quite intimate giving it’s a minimal cast but director Hannah Price has assembled a fantastic cast of 4 brilliant actors. Playing Bobby is British comedy icon Les Dennis, who was perfect casting. Not only can he crack a joke or two but he can also really delve into the emotive side of the character that Bobby often pushes down, particularly in his conversations with his son Michael. Playing Michael is Blake Harrison. Although known for his comedic turns in The Inbetweeners, the Dad’s Army reboot film and A Very English Scandal, this play is a perfect fit for him. On top of being able to work a crowd with a stand up set at the start of the show, he also has the ability to tap into the anxious and more sinister side of Michael that becomes more alive as the play goes on.

Tala Gouveia in End of the Pier at Park Theatre. Photo by Simon Annand 0388

Tala Gouveia is also particularly brilliant as Jenna, who works as a comedy commissioner at the BBC as well as being Michael’s fiancee. Radiating in brilliant stage presence, without giving much away, Jenna is clearly a woman has really had to fight tooth and claw to be taken seriously in her position as a mixed race woman (Michael actually points out in one scene that she is the only PoC on the “diversity board” at her workplace). In a character that could be so one dimensional and placed in the play due to her race or the fact that she’s Michael’s fiancee, both Gouveia and writer Danny Robins have created a complex woman who shows how much more PoC have to push themselves to be taken seriously and to get ahead. (Something us white folks need to consistently remember the next time we’re handed something on a plate because of our privilege). A late entrance into the play, but it is a spectacular entrance from Nitin Ganatra indeed. He plays Mohammed, the man who Michael attacks in the video. In order to prevent the video from going viral, all Mohammed asks for is a chance to perform on Michael’s television special. And he absolutely knocks it out of the park, not only impressing Jenna but also the audience I was in by performing the impeccable stand up routine that Danny Robins has written for him. Covering topics from the way Brits love to apologise to chicken tikka masala to how Muslims would be great at Christmas, he had me laughing so hard in my seat but also had me so invested in the character’s background.

Nitin Ganatra in End of the Pier at Park Theatre. Photo by Simon Annand 0403

In addition to the fantastic acting, the set design James Turner’s set design was brilliantly transformative from a living room to a dressing room to a stage with ease. Hannah Price’s production of this brilliant new play is not only hilarious and enjoyable but brings a lot of heart and allows us to confront ourselves about how we treat people in the name of comedic “banter”. A must see.

Until next time,

hayley-sprout-transparent

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