Northern Comedy Theatre have taken on many classic comedy plays including The 39 Steps, Noises Off and most recently, The History Boys, but this year they present a brand new play called Health and Safety. David Spicer’s play is about the Annual National Conference for Health and Safety and everything that ironically goes wrong just before the lead up to the event. The play gets a great balance between being hilarious, with a few one liner even going a little too far, yet creating tension between the characters too. The plot is gripping although it does feel a little long as well. It does comment on some big issues including the role of a journalist and the power that politicians have.
Shaun Chambers directed this production and he did a great job. The piece is fairly slick, although there are a lot of blackouts used. All the jokes landed well and the events that unfolded in the play were very believable, even if at times it did feel a little far-fetched. The set is very simple with only one set depicting a hotel room and other scenes being played in front of the curtains, but they made this work and didn’t feel too cheap.
Robert Stuart Hudson led the cast as Anthony Hadley and he was brilliant. He was clearly no stranger to the stage, and he is a fantastic comedic actor. He brought the character of Hadley, the leader of the Health and Safety Conference, to life very well. At times, he felt a little OTT but he was thoroughly entertaining and likeable throughout. Vikki Earle took on the role of media student and aspiring journalist Kate Garner. Her performance was brilliant and completely believable and the use of a screen to show what the character was tweeting throughout added to the comedy of the show.
Kathryn Chambers played government worked Jacquie O’Sullivan and her performance was very strong. She was perfectly cast as the overly politically correct lesbian and got plenty laughs from her lines. Connor Simkins played another government worker Howard Wall and he was exceptional. He was perfectly vile and manipulative, and he worked brilliantly alongside Chambers. It was somewhat unclear as to what the role in the government O’Sullivan and Wall was though.
Tony O’Keeffe played Inspector Kilburn and did a very good job at playing the police inspector who didn’t really know what he was doing. Ted Wilkinson was a fantastic addition to the show as the Workman. Despite having no lines in the play at all, he probably got the most laughs in the show. He was truly hilarious every second he was on stage. Mikayla Jane Durkan was great as the new Health and Safety minister Marion Elliot. Despite being very underused, she was very entertaining and got many laughs purely because of how relatable she was to the political situation we’re currently in.
Health and Safety was a brilliant comedy showcasing some brilliant comedy acting from the region and making comment on some big political issues. Hopefully the play, after some cutting down of the length, will return in a bigger and better production as it only had a very short 2 day run.
Reviewer: Jacob Bush
Reviewed: 28th February 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★