With its flamboyant characters, perky musical numbers and frankly nutty plot, Vampire Hospital Waiting Room could have been just another hour of fun, forgettable studenty zaniness. Thankfully, it is so much more than that.
This is largely due to the clever writing. Writer and director Theo McCabe and writer and star Craig Methven have not only devised a surprisingly entertaining plot, but they also have a nice line in dry, rib-achingly funny one liners. The script veers wildly between these sharp, elegant cracks and subtle-as-a-pair-of-inflatable-breasts teenage sniggering; yet somehow it works, pulling together to deliver an evening of almost incessant hilarity. The audience smiled, then they giggled, then finally they roared, wiping their eyes and struggling to catch their breath before the next assault.
The story is undeniably ridiculous, but none the worse for it. Handsome millionaire Arty Baldwin is the tragic victim of a car crash which leaves him in a vegetative state. As if this weren’t misfortune enough, his care is in the hands of demented Doctor Bloom, who is convinced that Arty is the Dark Lord himself, finally come to turn him into a vampire. Assisting the good doctor is a character simply known as Sexy Nurse, as well as the two (im)patients who happen to be in the waiting room; a mysterious young stranger and a jovial vicar who is bleeding to death from a stab wound. Enter Arty’s sexy, naïve young mistress and his rapacious, glamorous wife, and we are all set for one heck of a party.
The show is saved from descending into utter bedlam by the cast, who are not only good actors but also accomplished singers. Both their solos and their chorus harmonies, accompanied by a pianist, are sheer perfection, and their awareness of the Hammer/50s B movies that they are sending up is spot on.
The songs themselves are toe-tapping showstoppers, performed with gusto by the entire cast. Even Arty refuses to let his catatonia interfere with his musical fun. Special mention must go to Joe McCardle, who somehow manages to make Dr Bloom both ludicrous and sinister, and to Imogen Brabant as the glamorous and evil Mrs Baldwin.
Beach Comet Theatricals are a young group and occasionally it shows; there was the odd stutter in the repartee and some near-corpsing amongst the cast which, though endearing, was a little distracting. Nevertheless, In Vampire Hospital Waiting Room they have produced something very special indeed. As promised, they truly Put The Fun In Funeral. Bravo.
Review by Genni Trickett
VAMPIRE HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM’s twisted single-act plot follows a horrific car crash which finds handsome billionaire Arty Baldwin trapped, wheelchair-bound and comatose in Dr. Bloom’s waiting room with his sharp-witted but distraught secretary Liz. Unfortunately, the good doctor is distracted. Convinced that Arty is the Vampire Lord on the verge of his long-prophesised return to power, he sets about awakening his new master so that he might too join the ranks of the immortals. But could he finally be right?
A comedy “B-movie” for the stage, the show features live scoring and nine original songs including Love is Like a Car Crash and Let’s Put the Fun in Funeral.
Vampire Hospital Waiting Room
9th November to 21st November 2015