PICTURE the scene: Lunchtime at your favourite restaurant. You’ve just collected a glass of wine from the bar as the waiter shows you to your table.
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Malmaison, Tower Place
Nearby, a party of four - two middle-aged couples enjoying an apparently relaxing meal together - are about to settle up the bill. What could possibly go wrong? The answer, plenty.
Set in the ornate surroundings of Leith’s Malmaison Hotel, had you walked into this 45-minute show by accident, you’d swear the diners sitting opposite were anything but actors. (Credit to director Paul Murray for that.) They confer about the service, hold a vote on whether to tip or not, and there’s the usual chit-chat you’d expect of any couples married for more than a decade. The difference is, it’s really funny.
Written by Robin Mitchell, the zappy script is so identifiable you’ll instantly recognise yourself in one, if not all, of the four characters. There’s always one guy who has to announce he’s off to the toilet, there’s always a lady who ends up emptying her entire handbag’s contents before realising what she’s actually looking for is in the front pocket, and there’s always the couple who gossip about the others when they nip outside to feed their nicotine habit.
Sometimes, however, there’s also a big squabble over who pays the bill - think Fawlty Towers meets Men Behaving Badly and you’ll get the idea.
Of course, such arguments over money is where you often see people’s true colours show. It’s awkward, sure, but when you’re the voyeur, it makes for delightful entertainment.
Featuring Paul Murray (the man’s man), Edward Cory (the peacemaker), and Gwendoline North (the nervy housewife who doesn’t want to cause a row), it’s Donna Hazleton who resonates the most as the group’s sassy fuss-budget. Spare some sympathy, too, for Blair Grandison - the harassed waiter.
A great concept for lunchtime theatre, there’s nothing too demanding about the piece. There’s no real big surprises, either, so don’t expect a twist. It does, however, have the potential to evolve, and no doubt will by the time it debuts on the Fringe this August.
Run ends Friday