WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE: Trafalgar Studios 2
WHEN: 22/9, booking to 28/10
Writer Stephen Clark won an Olivier award for his lyrics for the re-worked version of Martin Guerre and the poetic nature of his writing is much in evidence here.
- Read on for reasons including why this is Julian Clary as you’ve never seen him before
The first third of Le Grand Mort is Julian Clary addressing the audience as his character Michael although the script is so clearly written for him that there’s an unusual symbiosis between writer and actor that is so rarely so perfectly realised.
He’s musing on sex and death, often to hilarious effect, raiding history for examples including Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Rasputin and Tutankhamun.
He’s also making pasta puttanesca on the kitchen set in front of us in this intimate studio as he prepares for the arrival of his dinner guest Tim (the much younger and muscular James Nelson-Joyce).
The clues are everywhere in this exquisitely written black comedy: the title, a reference to la petite mort, or sense of orgasm likened to death. Or pasta puttanesca, quite literally meaning prostitute’s pasta.
The focus of the writing inevitably loses its way a little with the arrival of Tim as the two play mind games as they tell stories of their past and their motives for what the evening will hold for the other become clearer.
Fans of Clary will not be disappointed by this foray into serious drama which so plays to his strengths that the adult themes of the material mean there are many belly laughs waiting in store for this who make it down to the 100-seat venue.
Indeed we can’t imagine anywhere better suited to setting this new black comedy than Trafalgar Studios 2. At 90 minutes without interval, it zips by and is an expected delight.