THE LATEST offering from Roger Goddard ‘Cold Meat’ was billed as ‘a sitcom with each of the five scenes being the equivalent of an episode’ and it was just that.
This was great traditional British comedy – it had a fantastic cast of characters, wonderful one-liners, plenty of double entendre and innuendos, farcical situations and a sprinkling of thought-out malapropisms.
It led to ripples of laughter throughout and a fair amount of real laugh-out-loud moments.
Cold Meat was also traditional in that it was set in middle class suburbia – the whole piece was played out in the kitchen of John and Elizabeth and there was plenty of wine-swigging between the conversation and scenarios.
It worked perfectly in the Norbury Theatre’s studio – a simple but functional set and the small venue enhanced that atmosphere that was homely on the one hand and sometimes claustrophobic on the other.
All of the comedy came from the characters – those who liked each other and those who did not and clashed and the situations which arose.
Ironically when looking at one aspect of British sitcom we have to turn to a German word – and there is plenty of schadenfreude in Cold Meat. In fact, the whole script is based on it and it works brilliantly.
The best performances of the night went to Mike Richardson as John who just wanted a quiet life and to enjoy the odd joke or two and Joy Williamson as the promiscuous Angela. She was beautifully over-the-top as she drifted in and out of the couple’s home, shedding light on her latest string of dates and trying her luck with Peter.
Roy Watton as Peter was also good, over-dramatically complaining as his ailments got progressively worse, while Helen Bourke was sound as Elizabeth whose main aim in life was to maintain the equilibrium among the crazy characters around her.
The supporting characters – Elizabeth’s mum Mary (Zena Schtyk) and Romanian home-help Myra (Tanith Garcia) played their parts and added to the comedy, especially Tanith with her ‘broken English’ reminiscent of Manuel in Fawlty Towers.
It’s not all comedy though and there are serious strands to the play which everyone relate to -the process of getting old for those later on in life and their loved ones ‘making excuses’ for their own peace of mind regarding progressive elderly illness.
Overall though, in our everyday lives, we are often sandwiched between doom and gloom in the national news and with everything going on around us. Cold Meat provides us with fantastic filling of comedy to offer us something different and there is also a nice twist at the end to explain the title.