Raising Martha, Park Theatre, review: ‘Revolves around Tom Bennett and Joey Fry’s rapport’
- Credit: Archant
David Spicer’s new dark comedy has sex, slapstick and silly behaviour performed by an outstanding cast with a collective CV spanning Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Doctor Who and Phone Shop
Raising Martha sounds like the heart-warming tale of a tortured young girl evacuated to the countryside during World War Two into the care of a gruff couple who, despite initial reservations, form a special and unbreakable bond. Basically Goodnight Mister Tom mark II.
Not even close. The theme of David Spicer’s new dark comedy is animal rights related grave robbery gone wrong. Gerry (Stephen Boxer) has locked himself in his family home slash ex-frog farm as a result of relentless attacks from activists, when Jeff Rawle’s village Inspector, arrives to tell him and his brother Roger (Julian Bleach) that their mother has been kidnapped.
Well, most of her. Animal rights activists Jago and Marc have dug her up, haplessly leaving behind a library card and a femur. They hope to blackmail Gerry and Roger into selling the house, which Gerry has now transformed into a toad sweat infused cannabis farm. As you can imagine, chaos and confusion ensues.
There’s sex, slapstick and a lot of silly behaviour performed by a truly outstanding cast with a collective CV spanning Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Phone Shop and Drop the Dead Donkey.
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Tom Bennett (responsible for the hysteria in Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship) gets the special recognition award for his portrayal of Marc, who isn’t quite sure what he’s gotten himself into. His rapport with Joel Fry’s Jago, the passionate but inactive “leader”, forms the axis around which the play revolves.
Michael Fentiman’s direction is wonderful but it is the script that takes Raising Martha to another plane, namely Spicer’s clever use of wordplay. Each second induces either a guffaw or a grin.
- 1 Man jailed for rape of young girl in north London 40 years ago
- 2 Helen Anderson: Finsbury Park murder victim's father pays tribute to his daughter
- 3 Disused Holloway garages converted into garment-making workspace
- 4 Mem and Laz Brasserie voted as readers' favourite restaurant
- 5 Police looking to speak to man in connection with sexual assault
- 6 Home of the metre-long pizza opens in Finsbury Park
- 7 'Proper old Islington boozer' voted best pub by readers
- 8 Kacem Mokrane: Islington man amongst seven charged with 2017 murder
- 9 Spot the '90s pop stars in the Never Mind the Buzzcocks identity parade
- 10 Prince Edward visits youth centre in Islington
A farce such as this is fertile ground for obvious jokes, but it is the mark of a true artist that he plucks and presents them at just the right time to garner maximum appreciation. You laugh immediately, thinking: “I should have seen that one coming.”
There’s no weak link in this star-studded cast who deliver every gag with precision.
Rating: 4/5 stars