Hurricane Michael is currently showing at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington. If you get a chance do go and watch this 1 hour, 1 man laugh-out-loud show. For me, this play emulates one of the joys of fringe theatre; watching experienced actors perform in an intimate venue in styles and characters that you wouldn’t ordinarily recognise them for.
Russell Layton, known mostly for his work with the RSC and Globe, performs his self-penned play Hurricane Michael with the help of Director Simon Hudson. To set the scene, It’s October 1987, the Bee Gees and George Michael are top of the charts, the world is still in state of shock following Black Monday and the global collapse of the stock market.
In other news, The BBC’s new style of weather reporting is at its peak broadcasting for over 4 minutes in each segment, Michael Fish is a household hero and housewives’ saviour – that is until he delivered that fateful sentence: “Earlier on today apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she had heard that there was a hurricane on the way. Well if you are watching, don’t worry there isn’t.”
The piece is a pure genius. Layton’s comic timing is utterly wonderful, his character of Michael Fish is warm and delightful to watch even with his messed up hair, mismatched outfit including weather-patterned tie! All in all this production provides an audience-friendly roller-coaster ride of belly laughing humour where we track the rise and meteoric fall of Michael Fish.
We meet Michael as he is recording his memoirs to video, following his 30 years’ tenure with the BBC, he wants to put the record straight. To do this he takes his audience on a journey back to the time he was a young slightly left of centre meteorologist and forecaster working for the Met Office. He was living the dream, travelling the world and forecasting weather. We learn about his approach from the BBC’s Director General and their joint plans to revolutionise the way weather is delivered. We watch as Michael gathers his group of weathermen (Ian, Wincey and John) with a little help from the audience – and we learn how he drove record breaking viewing figures as he became a household name, helping the nation know when to hang out their washing, when to take an umbrella to the shops and when to wrap up warm.
The piece is crammed full of weather puns, insider jokes (don’t worry he lets us in on the jokes ) actors’ asides, social commentary and of course the reason behind how that fated broadcast came about. I can honestly say that from the first words that came out of Russell’s mouth I was in stitches of laughter and it didn’t stop until the lights came down at the end of the show. I cannot fault the performance, the script, the direction, the only thing missing was that classic song of 1985 called “I wish, I wish, he was like Michael Fish”.
Review by Faye Stockley
Michael Phish, Svengali, Weather-guru & scourge to the meteorological Sanhedrin. A populist who challenges the Met Office with his breezy delivery to camera and outlandish beige-based wardrobe. This is a man, a Weatherman, a non-stranger to controversy. Tight flares and a warm front, raising the atmospheric pressure to levels not seen since records began. This is the story the Met office don’t want you to hear. How they tried to frame him, then crush him. This is Michael Phish. This is his story.
A complete and utter discombobulation of the last great black and white decade, the 1980’s, as seen through the prism of unfettered weather-forecasting. This is no storm in a teacup.
The White Bear Theatre
138 Kennington Park Rd
London SE11 4DJ
Performance dates and times:
30 September – 4 October 2015
Wednesday – Saturday @ 8:30pm
At the Etcetera Theatre 3rd to 8th November 2015
Friday 2nd October 2015