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Dumb Show (Oldham)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Oldham’s temporary home at the Grange Arts Centre plays host to the Coliseum’s in house production of Joe Penhall’s Dumb Show. A story of celebrity expose, entrapment and the invasion of privacy arguably makes this one of the most topical plays available to audiences at the moment. 

Set in the round we get to meet Barry (Steve Huison) who is Mr Saturday Night; a celebrity who is adored by the masses. However he is taking full advantage of his celebrity status by indulging in the excesses that can come with being in the limelight. 

When he is approached by two ‘bankers’ from an upmarket bank he is attracted to their offers of lifestyle management as well as exclusivity and agrees to sign up and do his business with them. His is quickly lured in to divulging all kinds of information about his private life and his extra curricular activities with dramatic results.

Huison’s portrayal of Barry is extremely credible. His delivery of bad jokes, super dry sarcasm and a sleazy persona is very effective. The audience swing from being wary of him and not wanting to be alone in a room with him to feeling very sorry for his middle aged man whose life is not as glamorous as perhaps it first seems. The duo of Greg (Leigh Symonds) and Liz (Kate Coogan) as the exceptionally nosey ‘bankers’ who later reveal themselves to be journalists who have caught Barry’s indiscretions on camera are thoroughly unpleasant and capture the cut throat world of tabloid journalism  in a way that resonates with recent revelations about the conduct of the press in the UK.

Although topical, Dumb Show lacks any real bite. The revelations made are fairly mild and predictable and the outcome is somewhat tame without any real dramatic turns. It feels a little bit too safe and although written in 2004 it hasn’t got enough punch. It is totally inoffensive and pleasantly entertaining but does not tackle this murky world with enough ferocity.  

- Ruth Lovett


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