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The Cancellation of Crispin Cox by Michael Conley | Review

This fifty-minute, online, one-man play is written and performed by the ever-so-camp Michael Conley, who has previously written the libretto for Superhero. The reason he stars in the play is, as he says, because he would not let anyone else!

The Cancellation of Crispin Cox
The Cancellation of Crispin Cox – Photo by Jane Hobson

Crispin Cox has been drafted in at short notice to take over from his “very best friend” the only role in a musical version of Les Liaisons Dangereuses – which Crispin is unable to pronounce correctly. It appears that he has had a week to learn and rehearse his role and he is determined that this will be the restart of his so-far lacklustre acting career.

We meet him making-up for the role in front of his dressing-room mirror one hour before Press Night, where he is continually interrupted by messages and telephone calls, which also appear as tabs on the video screen.

As portrayed by Conley, Crispin comes across as a rather sad, tormented soul, who inwardly knows that he is doomed to fail; it is quite tragic – and also amusing – to watch and listen as we see Crispin metaphorically “dig his grave” time after time. One does have sympathies with him seeing that, although he has spent every waking hour of the last seven days working on his role, the producers have been too mean to get a new programme printed, and the change of cast will just be an insert!

As the play progresses we hear snatches from the musical, which by the way, started life as a full cast production, was then workshopped for budgetary reasons as a two-hander, and the became a monologue for artistic reasons! There is so much that is all too true about theatre in this piece and Michael Conley is to be congratulated on not only writing it but also being convincing in the role, even if his American accent is suspect at times!

He is aided and abetted by Aisling Tara, Alfred Taylor-Gaunt and Like Bateman, none of whom we ever see, and it was recorded in one take by Luke and Richard Rayner.

Michael Conley’s musical, VANARA, premieres at Hackney Empire this autumn: CRISPIN COX is a fascinating curtain-raiser to that!

3 Star Review

Review by John Groves

Alfred Taylor-Gaunt and Aisling Tara
present
THE CANCELLATION OF CRISPIN COX
written by and starring Michael Conley

the world premiere of this one-act, one-man play
will stream online July 29 via crispincox.com

Music by Luke Bateman
Videography by Luke Rayner
Sound by Richard Rayner
Produced by Alfred Taylor-Gaunt and Aisling Tara
Social media: @crispincox

Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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