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|A CurtainUp London Review
By Darren Dalglish
> Popcorn is Ben Elton’s new comic play, which premiered at the Nottingham Playhouse last year. Ben Elton has had other plays in the West End, Gasping in 1990 which ran for nine months at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and then Silly Cow’which ran for eight months, also at the Haymarket. This latest offering is to establish if screen violence has any effect on the viewers.
Top film director Bruce Delamitri (Danny Webb), who specialises in violent and depraved films has controversially won an Oscar for his latest feature. After receiving the Oscar he returns to his luxury Beverley Hills home with the latest model from playboy magazine, Brooke Daniels (Megan Dodds). However, when they get home, they are taken hostage by two of America’s wanted criminals Wayne Hudson( Patrick O’Kane) and his girlfriend Scout (Dena Davis), who have been going around killing people just for fun. To add to Bruce’s problems, his soon to be ex wife, Farrah (Debora Weston) and his daughter, Velvet (Paula Bacon) come to the house and thus get mixed up in the affray.
Wayne and Scout know that it will not be long before they get caught, and when caught they would face the electric chair. Therefore their plan is to make Bruce admit on live TV that it is his films that are responsible for turning them into murderers.
This is a breath of fresh air in the West End. Ben Elton tries to tackle this controversial subject and succeeds in a script that makes you think hard about the morals of such films and of the people who watch them. Most critics were of the same mind and also liked the play. ANDY COULSON from the SUN said “ ..an intense, brilliantly scripted debate about the morals of the film business.” and NICK CURTIS from the EVENING STANDARD said “..its combination of sex, violence, comedy and morality is ultimately as engaging as it is jumbled.” KATE BASSETT , from the DAILY TELEGRAPH loved it, “Intellectually stimulating entertainment.”, she said.
The play has been well cast, with a very energetic and powerful performance by Patrick O’Kane, who plays the gunman. It must take an awful lot out of him to perform like this on stage every night. There is so much aggression and power in the character. Dena Davis who plays his partner in crime, also puts in a fine performance as his girlfriend who is vulnerable and naive one minute and quite callous the next.
The play is a little violent and contains some strong language which some people feel may not like. However, this is still a comedy which will make you laugh at times, although I must admit I always feel a little uncomfortable laughing at jokes concerning violence.
Even though Closer drags on a little in the middle of act 2, it soon picks up for a great cliff-hanger at the end. This is quite a clever play that would probably have more appeal to the young rather the old.