Welcome to The Cul-De-Sac. Here, cars are parked on drives or in garages, not on the street. Here, there are no garish Christmas decorations on the outside of houses. Here, you are safe. Or are you?
Written by stand-up comedian Matthew Osborn, this Stepford Wives-esque piece tells a tale of outwardly respectable but inwardly twisted modern suburbia. Newcomer Tim (Alan Francis) is greeted by his neighbour Nigel (Mike Hayley), a stalwart of the street who explains that there are standards to maintain, and who will seemingly defend those standards to the death – perhaps even literally.
The dark underbelly of life in the Cul-De-Sac is quickly revealed. Dr. Cole (a smilingly sinister Julian Dutton) is far more interested in his golf handicap, embroidery or playing chess than in the physical or emotional ailments of his patients. He hands out prescriptions that are at best unconventional and at worst downright psychopathic.
We learn that it is Tony Devereux, an unseen neighbour, who rules the roost. Despite walking with a limp and looking like a ‘Maltese pimp’, Tony is apparently irresistibly charming to the Cul-De-Sac’s women, children and even pets and takes what he wants when he wants it. Tim is initially unconvinced, but is gradually sucked deeper and deeper into Tony’s grasp.
The three cast members are all equally strong, consistently bringing out the dark humour through physicality, facial expressions and some great comic timing. It’s actually rather refreshing to see a play with only three men of a certain age on stage, and with no glamour, bells or whistles.
There are some funny lines and scenarios, many quite close to the bone. A vague misogynistic tinge oversteps the mark on one occasion, but mostly everything is played in such a way that it remains humorous and doesn’t become offensive.
It’s entertaining rather than exciting, but if you want to see some good comic acting in an intimate space, this is worth a look.
-by Emma Watkins