Desperately Seeking The Exit with Peter Michael Marino
If the title seems familiar, then you probably read Charles Spencer’s review, back in 2007, of the lamentably unsuccessful, short-lived musical spectacular, Desperately Seeking Susan. Despite a seemingly winning combination of an adaptation of the cult Madonna film and a rocking soundtrack plucked from Blondie’s back catalogue, the show was generally agreed to be a resounding turkey – Spencer’s was by far from being the most uncomplimentary review – and disappeared from the West End in just three weeks.
Emotionally battered and literally bloody (haemorrhoids), the writer, Peter Michael Marino has bravely re-entered the West End fray with the ultimate in therapy; he’s going to tell us all about it. From the moment he and a friend, wreathed in bong smoke, first came up with the concept, through the violent battles of egos between the various producers and so on to the grisly demise of his “horribly deformed” baby, this charming, entertaining motor-mouth holds nothing back.
The director, Angus Jackson, with his merciless paring back of the lavish glitzy spectacular the author had in mind, and the choreographer, Andy Blankenbuchler, with his surreal, robotic dance fantasies come in for their fair share of stick, but Marino is equally scathing when it comes to his own failings. He is honest about his own naivety and inability to deal with the pressure that naturally comes with such a huge project, and his mockery of British peculiarities is affectionate rather than scathing, although this theme does resurface rather too often during the show and starts to wear a little thin, especially since he claims several times to be an “anglo-holic”. However his invention of a Tea-Tap, which he intends to take to Dragon’s Den, probably has legs.
It was a disappointment, given the gossipy nature of the evening, not to get rather more juicy gossip about the real movers and shakers, but there was enough there to get your teeth into. Marino’s delivery veers wildly between staccato machine gun excitement and abrupt pauses as he completely loses the thread of what he was saying, but he is always interesting, and, armed only with a replica transistor radio and a bottle of Magners, manages to be a show in himself.
It would be difficult for anyone not intimately involved in the world of theatre to appreciate some of the innuendos or understand some of the references, and so the general appeal of the show is necessarily limited. However if he chose to take it on tour, it would prove an immensely salutary tale for drama students at universities up and down the land. Overall though, Desperately Seeking the Exit is a one-man exercise in personal catharsis for Marino, and I very much hope it works.
Review by Genni Trickett
6th May 2013