Wednesday, April 21, 2021

PERFECT (Northern Comedy)***


By Cal


Available until: Shows on 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th April at 8pm

Perfect is about education minister, Daniel Lewis, and the questionable decisions he makes. He begins with an idea for education reform. He’s very enthusiastic about it and he believes in it, but soon, he finds himself getting distracted by other things, unfailingly choosing to do whatever is likely to get him into the most trouble.

David Spicer is a great writer and he has created a varied cast of characters, none of whom would be out of place in politics. He and Shaun Chambers directed the piece together and there must have been a lot going on behind the scenes, but there is no sense of rushing to get everything in place, or of stalling because something isn’t quite in place. Having watched a lot of online theatre, technical issues aren’t uncommon and they’re really not a problem at all, but to have performed such a technically demanding piece with no obvious technical issues really is impressive.

The humour in the script unfortunately did miss the mark for the most part with those of us who watched it (it seems we’re rather sensitive when it comes to jokes about Kirsty MacColl and llamas), perhaps partly because much of it felt too horribly close to reality to be amusing, but there are moments we enjoyed, including the fun of a politician having to deal with several pieces of paper on camera (you expect politicians to talk and hold props? At the same time?), and later choosing completely the wrong time and place to leave a message on his girlfriend’s phone.

Perfect has an outstanding ensemble of actors. Julien Ball is quite sweet as Daniel Lewis, a teacher who becomes an education minister. He behaved… perhaps not badly, as it’s not really what you might call out of character for a politician, but unlike many of the real ones, he does manage to win himself a bit of sympathy. The play states that ‘inadequate’ is not a word that has any place in the education system, but Daniel’s inadequacy is what saves him from being a complete and utter rat.

Kathryn Chambers, Vikki Earle, Connor Simkins and Robert Stuart Hudson swap costumes, hairstyles and accents to play numerous characters involved in Daniel’s bumpy ride through political life. At one point, Vikki has to interview Daniel about a relationship he had with one of her other characters, which could have been confusing, but her characterisation – and that of all her co-stars – is so on point, there’s no confusion at all because you know instantly that she’s a different person. Other good moments include all Kathryn’s appearances as the terrifying Philippa and a clever stitching-up scene from Robert. Connor has great comic timing and shares Julien’s ability to make us like his characters no matter what they do.

Perfect satirises politics very convincingly and the hard-working cast and crew cope brilliantly with a very demanding show.

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