Dead Funny

by Terry Johnson

9th – 11th November 2000

The setting is Eleanor and Richard’s living-room in an up-market area of North London, and the play opens late on the day of the death of comedian Benny Hill, back in April 1992. Richard, a doctor who specialises in hysterectomies, has reached a crisis point in his marriage, due to the fact that he can’t bear to touch his wife; as she is longing to have a baby by him before it is too late, she is doing her best to encourage him to undergo therapy, but with little success; their friends include Brian, a fifty-something mother’s boy, and another sexually-challenged couple Nick and Lisa.

dead funny prog

The Cast

Eleanor: Brenda Prior
Richard: David McKenzie
Brian: Nick Roberts
Nick: Mark Bailey
Lisa: Caroline Dilger

Directed by Mike Long

Newbury Weekly News review

Good, (not so) clean fun!

The Dead Funny Society is a group of people who meet to celebrate the genius of Britain’s best-loved comics. During the course of the action the demise of Benny Hill prompts the members to hold a party to give him a special send-off. Playing against this unlikely backdrop the characters’ stories unfold with often hilarious and sometimes dramatic results.

The action takes place in Eleanor and Richard’s living room. Richard is a gynaecologist who, to put it delicately, does not perform in the bedroom department. Even seeing a therapist does not seem to alleviate the couple’s problems which leaves Eleanor feeling hopeless especially as Richard seems to be more interested in his Dead Funny Society. Nick and Lisa are two more members of the Society, but when Richard is alone with Lisa he proves to be more enthusiastic in carnal matters than was first thought! Finally there is Brian, an oddball and a loner since his mother died, who during all the dramas decides to declare that he bats for the other side, so to speak!

This was a challenging play for the Players, dealing with adult themes, and the cast is to be commended on the handling of the material. The tricky scenes were played with great humour and they played them without embarrassment.

As Richard, David McKenzie delivered his large role very well, and Brenda Prior as Eleanor brought out all the angst and frustration of her character, we really felt for her. Although there was some hesitancy in the delivery of the lines on Thursday, particularly in the first scene, the pace picked up to provide good entertainment. Mark Bailey gave a sound performance as Nick, with some humorous impersonations, and Caroline Dilger as Lisa created a delightful character (shades of Gayle Tuesday). Nick Roberts, as Brian, created a wonderfully funny character, with good timing, which kept the audience in stitches.

The set was adequate, but a little below the usual Compton Players standards, lacking detail and dressing, but the production was all, if not clean, good fun and one in which director Mike Long should feel pleased.

It was a brave choice, both testing for the cast and audience alike.