15 July 2011 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Described in the programme as a “creative experiment” by co-writer and performer Johnny Vegas, Manchester International Festival’s And Another Thing... combines live television and theatre in the name of “trying to tell a story in a slightly different way”. Well, the story is this: Bryan (Vegas) and his protégé Lindsay ( Emma Fryer) are shopping channel TV presenters. Working together on screen, they smash sales records, but when Lindsay is offered the opportunity to present her own line of ladies’ support underwear which would mean breaking up the team, the two inevitably come to realise just how much they need each other and, of course, what’s really important in life. The innovation here obviously does not come from the traditional narrative. It is the introduction of a live television aspect - in which Fryer and Vegas sell hanging baskets on the Ideal World shopping channel, beaming live into the homes of unsuspecting viewers- that provides the show with originality. Used as a device to explore how emotionally-distracted people function under the pressure of presenting live television, this element is enjoyable, but ultimately feels pointless. Transforming the fictional at-home TV audience into a real one for ten minutes adds little in the way of dramatic tension: the stakes are already high for both the actors (who have hundreds of pairs of eyes on them in the venue) and the characters (who have been live on imagined TV since the beginning of the play), without the addition of this external audience. This aside, the cast (including Kevin Eldon as the put-upon floor manager) are warm and likeable as comedy performers, with Vegas and Fryer executing their brilliant TV sales patter with aplomb. However, some of the more emotional exchanges between the characters fall flat, feeling slightly clichéd and forced, making it difficult to fully engage with the narrative. The sitcom-esque script is full of knowing idiosyncratic references to the ‘lifestyle-enhancing’ products sold on shopping channels, while the staging is simple yet effective in its dual role as TV and theatre set. Overall, this is an entertaining show with a good few belly laughs: Fans of Vegas will not be disappointed. However, standing alongside the other work created for the boundary-breaking Manchester International Festival, And Another Thing... feels fairly unsurprising and dated, despite its experimental televisual strand. - Sara Cocker Related Content Back to Northwest Homepage
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