Review – Die Mommie Die!

Monday 12 November 2007

What could possibly have attracted the Whingers to a play about an ageing singing star whose career is on the skids?

Add to that the facts that the grotesque Angela Arden is played by legendary drag artiste Charles Busch and the whole thing is a parody of those Douglas Sirk melodramas that often starred Whingers’ favourite Lana Turner ?

Yes what could have been the attraction?

Die Mommie Die! at New World Stages is a grotesque, over the top comedy set in a Beverly Hills mansion in 1967.

The now talentless diva Angela Arden is plotting to dispatch her rich producer husband so she can pursue her super-endowed gigolo boyfriend Tony Parker (Chris Hoch). The plot involving murder, deception, LSD, and anal suppositories has certainly supplied Phil with a few ideas for dispatching Andrew as he increasingly displays similar diva-like behaviour.

The Whingers had heard of Busch (who also penned the piece) but never seen him on stage before and he certainly ticked all the right boxes with his wicked send up of those old queens of Hollywood – think Bette Davis, Joan Crawford Barbara Stanwyck et al.

Was it as hilarious as they’d hoped? Well, no.

The promising opening featuring a projected montage of magazine covers and clippings charts Angela’s fame and decline and hilariously sets the scene. Busch’s costumes are spot on and witty (Phil was particularly drawn to his/her ludicrous tennis outfit and can’t wait to get back to London so he can get straight on to his Singer).

Although it’s amusing, it’s not hilarious – there were just two big laugh-out-loud moments as far as the Whingers were concerned and both were sight gags – one a costume and the other a brilliant stunt involving scissors.

But the scissors could have been put to good use elsewhere. Because despite running at a mere 90 minutes with no interval (third in a row… why can’t the West End be more like this?) it’s rather samey.

The set is great, the designs are great, the cast is absolutely fine but somehow it just doesn’t deliver on its promise.

Phil became increasingly uncomfortable as he recognised his fellow Whinger on stage and Andrew was feeling the same so both were rather quiet as they left.

On the plus side for the evening: the Whingers discovered that you can take your wine into the auditorium at the New World Multiplex. So far they have only seen two of the five plays that are on there…

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