The Demolition Man traces the life of steeplejack Fred Dibnah (Colin Connor) from his TV fame, through his marriage to third wife Shelia (Michelle Collins) leading to the diagnosis of his fatal illness. Like the central character, writer Aelish Michael is obsessive about detail and crams so much into the script that it becomes more a summary than a dramatisation.
The source material is rich but the dialogue goes from expositional to soap opera without ever being memorable. The sexual politics are crudely realised with men as childish boors and women calculating nags.
Connor takes a warts and all approach to Dibnah as his illness brings out pettiness and spite.Physically and vocally he is perfect - stoop-shouldered, pot-bellied and bow-legged. It is an excellent portrayal of someone who could be lovable but not necessarily sympathetic. He is ably matched by the brilliant Michelle Collins who combines northern grit mixed with glamour in her portrayal of Shelia but sadly there is not much on the page for the gifted actress to work with, although she is so skilful that she makes the most of an underwritten role.
Director David Thacker seems over-whelmed by the quantity of the material and just presents it, rather than achieving an interesting production. James Cotterill’s imaginative design projects images of Dibnah at work onto the walls whilst, at ground level, his magnificently messy workshop grows like weeds.
The Demoltion Man would have much greater impact if incidental material was cut and thus a clearer focus could be achieved.