Top Or Not?
Marina Kim, Co-Founder of Pomp Magazine, heads underground to check out the latest at the Old Vic Tunnels. Will she make it out?
The setting of the Old Vic Tunnels was perfect to convey the atmosphere of doom & gloom at the impending end of the world – the Top Story on the news. Comet George is on it’s way due in less than a week, and with rattling trains passing above our heads, it seemed like we, too, were hiding away in a grotty shelter, waiting for it all to be over.
Dazzling newsreader Chrissie Craven, played by Josephine Kime, provided a cradle of stability in this collapsing world. Her daily broadcasts revealed the unfolding drama with Chrissie beaming all the way seemingly oblivious to the grim reality of the situation. Perving politicians, science experts and hot-blooded male colleagues, brilliantly played by Andy Hawthorne and Richard Matthews, declaring their lust for her would not stop her reportage. For Chrissie announcing the top story is her big moment, and nothing else matters. Josephine conveyed the character beautifully and hilariously.
Central characters, layabout friends Gus (Lewis Goody) and Talfryn (Ed Pinker) chose to die together in their studentish London flat. They didn’t give much thought to it, they were just hanging out together when the news came and didn’t seem bothered about seeing anybody else. Their conversation about the upcoming disaster was lacking depth and got a bit lengthy at times, and maybe wasn’t particularly witty. But then they were playing normal London guys, and perhaps that is what these normal London boys could have really been.
However, Gus’s personifications of his girlfriend’s neediness, and consequent lack of enthusiasm of spending the End of the World with her, were brilliant. Quite a few girls in the audience seemed to have recognized themselves as they giggled at the scene.
Gus’s and Talfryn’s shallow banter is contrasted with more philosophical discussions by two angels old and wise Alphron and young Raoul, played by Stephen Schreiber and James Messer. At times Raoul appears wiser than his mentor, as his reactions to the unfolding events are more natural. Sounds familiar?
You realise it is theatre but some of the questions stuck with you for quite some time, like: “Who would you want to die with?” I don’t think I have the answer to this question myself yet.
And at the end of the show, it’s not the politicians who admit to Chrissie that they’re out of answers, but Gus and Talfryn, who attempt to save the world in a gloriously non-Hollywood way. They are not superheroes who fly into space to stop the comet. In fact they don’t even have a clue how to do it. They are not even American. Just two young British blokes who love beer and chilling on the sofa, and an odd game of chess with their own rules.
Their idea how to do it, brought to life by intuition like the best of the ideas, is powerful in its simplicity: just dance. The energy of their universal dance is transmitted all over the world with the help of Youtube and Facebook. It is not “gangham style” but is equally hilarious and catchy. Beware, you will struggle to hold yourself from imitating their silly dance on the way home. Or maybe it’s worth remembering and repeating when your own world goes down… It might help.
So, have they done it? Is the world safe? Find out for yourself. This is an excellent uplifting night of theatre. Some tickets remain, though I suspect not for long.
Top Story is on now and runs until the 2nd February. To book tickets please click here