Review: Kissing Sid James – New Red Lion Theatre ***

Given the title, one would be forgiven for thinking this amusing piece is a tribute to the Carry On Films; and actually although far less innocent, there is much common ground. The play centres around Eddie and Crystal, Sid and Babs respectively, on a dirty weekend away, and the evolving trials and tribulations that ensue.

The opening scene is worth mentioning; a telephone call between the two would-be lovers. Back to back, each silhouetted in a door frame, their conversation echos out with some miked assistance. Alan Drake’s Eddie is instantly clear: bumbling but determined, his jaw moving nineteen to the dozen as he desperately attempts to invite the somewhat reluctant Crystal for a weekend break. Reluctant that is, until she hears that all expenses are on him, at which point Charlotte Mckinney’s energetic Crystal becomes suddenly more perky.

The piece fizzes along nicely, with plenty of on-cue, witty banter between the couple

Next up is the wonderfully hideous hotel room, well-designed by Kate Klinger, in all it’s floral glory. This production manages to fully utilise the rather charming new space of the Red Lion family – with hotel room, bar, hospital and pier all coming to life, aided by some sparkling fairy lights.

On the whole the piece fizzes along nicely, with plenty of on-cue, witty banter between the couple. Both actors are very present and fill the space with ease. Drake is particularly strong;  believable throughout, and both are boldly comic and vulnerable. The ‘sex’ scene, where Eddie expertly recites the names of past football legends whilst doing the business, does go on a bit, but this is a fault in the writing rather than the production. There was the odd instant where Mckinney didn’t seem quite in the moment – just speaking the line rather than actually responding to her fellow actor – but there were some real stand out moments of comedy and both characters were successfully irritating!

This is a fun production, well worth a visit.

*** (3 stars)
Runs until 29th January 2011
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