Being on at 22:20, Hell to Play, the bad taste comedy game show (Liquid Room Annexe) is timed to give people enough time to get there from other shows without having to rush, as all too often one show finishes on the hour and another starts simultaneously, making life awkward. However, this was far from the only attraction that this show has to offer. The concept itself is sound. The idea is that two comics in purgatory are put on the spot, having to ad lib answers during various rounds involving things that leave a bad taste. Whilst the level of bad taste wasn’t quite set in the gutter, the topics for each round were enough to be in keeping with the theme of the show.
The performers were all excellent. Alexander Bennett, with his flowing locks and dapper dressing was a convincing Satan and his polished execution of this role played a large part in making this show. It was also true that the devil did get all of the best lines. Paul Savage was something of a revelation. In a lot of ways he didn’t have a lot to do and the number of lines he had could probably have been written on a postcard. However, where he scored big was in the little touches that he added, such as playing, in context, Hitler as a cross between Woody Allen and Jackie Mason, the totally despondent wilting of his body during psychological buckeroo and his slimy Coulson. A lot of what he did was subtle, but every little thing mounted up. The only character that I thought needed more was Princess Diana (Andy Burr); a few subtle extras here would have been nice. Joe Hart had a good show. His characterisations, whilst broadly drawn, were instantly relatable and his superb accents added a lot to them. His cocky Chad Jockerson strongly reminded me of Darius Jedburgh in the early episodes of Edge of Darkness and the saluting and conducting of an invisible brass band whilst playing Peter Wright added a lot to the feel of this show. The inclusion of Peter Wright and the Hillsborough cover up reference served as a nice introduction into police malfeasance, which whilst somewhat niche, didn’t feel out of place.
With a format and performances as strong as this, the actual contestants are less crucial than on other game shows. Tonight we had Kiri Pritchard-Mclean and Rachel Fairburn and whilst they were a bit constricted with what they had to do, both were entertaining throughout the show.
This was the first show I’ve been in that felt like it was an event; it was almost comedy meeting rock and roll, or at least Iron Maiden, going with the ambient music. The lighting, the size of the venue, the height of the stage and the performances given, all contributed towards this being raised into something that had an element of spectacle about it. In a small room, this show would be good, but something of a curio. In the big venue and with a full house this would be a show with a massive atmosphere. It is definitely something with an element of razzmatazz about it.