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The Theatreguide.London Review

Jeremy Lion - For Your Entertainment
Menier Chocolate Factory        Autumn 2006

The comic creation of writer-actor-comedian Justin Edwards, Jeremy Lion is a very small-time children's entertainer.

And there is little wonder why he hasn't made it big - aside from thinking a really scary-looking ventriloquist's dummy is a good idea or that the kids would love a song called All The Dogs Are Dead, he seems to live in a pretty constant state of either drunkenness or hangover.

Still, he has a big gig coming up, performing for local adults in the hope they'll hire him for kiddie parties, and so he tries hard to quite literally get his act together.

This involves hiring failed schoolteacher Hilary (Gus Brown) to be his pianist-cum-second-banana, and the first act of Edwards' play shows them struggling against odds to get any work done, while Act Two is the inevitably disastrous performance.

A whole lot of this is very funny, particularly Edwards' characterisation of a man so deep in his cups that his brain must swim through fathoms of treacle to reach the surface, only to be as surprised as we by what it says or does there.

But a show like this, based essentially on one and a half running gags (the extended drunk act and the inept performers), is something like a video or arcade game. Victory is not really possible, and success is measured by how long you can keep going before dying.

In this case, it's about three-quarters of each of the acts, during which Edwards and Brown work enough variants on the basic themes to keep the laughs coming and any sense of cruelty to dead horses held off.

And that's a pretty impressive accomplishment so that, even if things do eventually wear too thin, enough of it is sufficiently inventive, legitimately comic, and engagingly performed to make for good dirty fun.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of Jeremy Lion For Your Entertainment - Menier Chocolate Factory 2006


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