Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Artistic Director Christian Heppinstall founded the Royal British Comedy Theatre in 2014 with the mission to stage classic British comic films, television shows, and stage plays with American actors using their Received Pronunciation BBC broadcaster dialect.
Heppinstall arranged with the BBC to present Absolutely Fabulous, a television series that broke ground in the 1990s first in the UK and then in the United States with its in-your-face celebration of family dysfunction and the most co-dependent mother-daughter relationship in television history. Edina the mother shocked audiences with her raw thirst for fame, riches, men, drugs, booze, cigarettes, style and fashion in the series. It was ranked as the 17th greatest British TV show of all time by the British Film Institute.
A live version recently presented at The Exit Theatre was a fun show. The actors in drag and semi-drag over-camped the material in the one hour and 40 minute production.
The group presented the "Sex" episode, which was part of season three in 1995. Pasty (Zsa Zsa Lufthansa) persuades Edna (Terry McLaughlin) to host an orgy. Following a 10-minute intermission, they presented "Small Openings," which was televised as part of season five in 2001. The plot includes Edna's daughter Saffy's (Dene Larson) first play which involves her family life and is due to open at her university theatre. Her parents try to get her to cancel it. Will the show go and will mum see it before it closes?
Terry McLaughlin believably morphed into Jennifer Saunders with an impeccable British voice. She was a hoot in her over the top delivery of the character. Zsa Zsa Lufthansa gave a colorful performance as her sidekick Pasty. Raya Light was entertaining as Bubble the secretary, a particular scream when wearing what looked like tin foil covering her body. Dene Larson was completely serious as Saffy and gave a good performance. Ryan Engstrom was pitch perfect as Gran. The rest of the cast consisting of Christian Heppinstall, Lisa Appleyard, Ginorma Desmond, Steven Sparrow, Lisa Darter and Hilda Roe nicely played others in the show. The direction by Christian Heppinstall was fast paced.
Absolutely Fabulous played The Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy Street, San Francisco through November 19th, 2016.