For me Shaun Williamson and always will be Barry from Eastenders, an irritating, yet loveable character actor. In this play by Arthur Kopit, directed by Colin McFarlane we meet an American Barry on speed and he is fantastic. Shaun Williamson has raised his game enormously as an American film producer in a rush to find fame, celebrity and that good old American buck. Barry is reborn! This play is about Barry, sorry Al, as a washed-up wannabee with a last chance at stardom and his latest squeeze Lou (played exquisitely by Wendy Morgan). His success depends on securing “the kingdom” that movie which will bring him to the top again. To achieve this he returns to his former partner Jerry, a loser in the mould of Oliver Hardy – Al had ruined Jerry’s career and drove his wife to suicide but needed him to close the deal as he “had balls”.
The film upon which the play is based is to be the life story of Nirvana, “the biggest rock star in the world” who is unfortunately slightly crazy. She has written an autobiography which has amazing similarities to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick; well other than the cover it is the same book. But she is a celebrity and the fans loves her so in truth “who cares”. For continuity however the whale has been replaced, but this time by something a lot more personal and I am not referring to Moby.
To get to the dream deal Jerry has to endure almost everything to show his commitment to the deal; including cutting his wrists; the eating of Holy poo and ultimately the sacrifice of his “balls” or at least one. The performances are fresh, witty and energetic. When Shaun Williamson is off stage the play labours somewhat awaiting his verbosity and ruthless energy. This is a great part comedy; part farce with twists laughter and what at the end of the day everybody is missing from their lives, that “splash of life”. Rejoice Pat and Janine, for Barry is back!