Event review: The Bacon Killer at Theatre Utopia

By - Thursday 9th March, 2017

This spunky, in-yer-face production is a credit to Croydon’s cultural scene

Photo by Jonny Rose, used with permission.

The Play That Goes Wrong and its spin-offs look set to begin a new trend in theatre. Of course, it’s nothing new for an actor to break the fourth wall to converse with the lighting technician, but these days the gags that piece together such a production could perhaps come to replace the somewhat stale routines seen in pantomime and other vaudeville shows. And while this kind of show is nothing new, it’s the attitude with which the production is presented that makes it relevant and refreshing.

So Misprint Theatre gives us The Bacon Killer at Theatre Utopia, a play that has gone very wrong, with one of the actors playing ‘the director’ addressing the audience at the start, advising us that several of his actors have walked out. But not to worry – they’ll manage. And so we see another actor playing ‘the stage manager’ playing various roles, and a bearded, hairy-chested chap filling in as a prostitute called Tiffany.

With the arrival of a Lethal Weapon TV series, this play feels timely, lampooning as it does American buddy cop movies from the 1980s, with every cliché thrown in. One of the cast’s black actors plays the desk thumping police chief, and of course he does! The style of comedy is irreverent, and often absurdist, more Naked Gun or National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon than Dario Fo/Michael Frayn.

Jamal Chong is skilled at reading his audience and delivering the goods

The play is directed, produced and mostly written (with the rest of the cast) by Jamal Chong, the man behind Theatre Utopia. He also plays one of the two cops (Kimberley Surname) and handles his checklist of standards to send up with skill. The hands-to-heaven extended slow-motion sounding ‘noooooooo’ when a character bites the dust gets shorter the more we hear it. How disastrous it would have been for that to outstay its welcome, but Jamal is clearly skilled at reading his audience and delivering the goods.

His cast of actors is nothing short of spunky, their gags are near the knuckle, and their characters hilarious. The very talented Michael Alexander is the man behind the light and sound desk, and also composer of much of the show’s original music, pulsating with Starsky and Hutch-style funk riffs.

This is joyous, confident, in-your-face theatre (at one point I got a face full of Kimberley’s drink, sprayed out upon hearing shocking news) and Misprint Theatre is a credit to Croydon’s cultural offering whether the company likes it or not. The only worry is the location itself, with a live music venue just one corridor away. Although a lot of soundproofing has been implemented since Matthews Yard first appeared, you can still hear the bands in the next room. With this kind of play, packed as it is with its own music and with its punk ethos, it doesn’t matter quite so much: they’re having their party in there, and we’re having ours in here. But a more serious piece of theatre, something Pinteresque, historical, or a play in a remote setting, might not fare so well under the same conditions. But if they can pick the right plays, as this one surely is, Theatre Utopia looks a promising space for theatre-hungry Croydonians. More of this sort of thing, please!

Rob Preston

Rob Preston

Rob was a co-host on Croydon Radio's Encyclopaedia Croydonia, and hosts the popular bi-monthly tribute nights at The Oval Tavern on Oval Road. As a writer / photographer his work has been published in Doctor Who Magazine, Dreamwatch, Auton, Dog's Breakfast, Bulletin Your Head and SoHo Life & Technology Today. His short stories have been read at Tales of Croydonia at The Oval Tavern, and he is currently working on two anthologies of his own short stories, one crime, the other horror. He has written and directed seven plays at various Croydon venues, and survives today as a jobbing actor.

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  • http://idioplatform.com/ Jonny Rose

    Amen, Rob! I saw this on Friday night and nearly bust a gut laughing. This was a riotously good comedy and it is a real credit to the Misprint Theatre team that they are writing scripts as funny as this inbetween running theatres and – in one case – a day job as a plumber!

    To Jamal & team: more, more, more! :)