A Biscuit Heiress and a Quoits Champion find their marriage on the rocks. Rather than attending counselling, they slug it out at The Concerned Billionaire’s Club AGM where the Champs’ bastard children perform in an attempt to change his wifes’ mind not to leave him. The result is the most unlikely and creative framework for a variety show imaginable.
Some beautifully insane characters were created to inhabit this elaborate world that was so much more than just linking material for some guest performers. You often found yourself patiently sitting through an act just to get back to the main story. Nellie White portrayed the unemotional, power crazed Heiress with wonderful detached pomposity while Andy Matthews played the neutered patriarch who relayed the majority of the plot exposition through lengthy monologue. A particular stand out was Dave Warneke as the slightly backwards son of the couple. He threw himself into the role wholeheartedly and nothing was too demeaning for a joke, no matter how minor the pay off, which had everyone waiting to see what he would do the next time he stepped on stage.
Through all the silliness, bad puns and exaggerated melodrama there was some thinly veiled social satire at work here but nothing too heavy to take away from the lightness of the show. The staging of the show was brilliantly done in a slightly homemade yet elaborate fashion. We saw some wonderfully oversized props, a stoic feathered friend and a feat of stage engineering to wrap up a seemingly minor plot point. We were fully immersed in this strange yet familiar world from the get go.
The line up of Illegitimate Children (ie. Guest performers) changes every night. On the night I attended the ‘Children’ were Stuart Daulman, Gillian Cosgriff and Oliver Clark. If there was one niggling shortfall it was that these guests weren’t fully integrated into the universe created by the core cast. They made a passing reference to being Andy’s offspring but essentially just did their usual act. This was probably the only brief given to them about being on this variety show but an act tailored to the overall show would have been a nice touch.
As a variety show this is a great hour of entertainment. Add in these crazy characters and their story arc and this show is elevated to a must see event.
Andy & Nellie’s Secret Second Family Variety Show is on at The Tuxedo Cat at 7:15pm until September 28.