It’s around Christmas sometime in the 1990s and somewhere on Staten Island in New York, sharing a small, two-bedroom apartment are friends Alex and Terry. Buck has been staying over as he’s having an affair with Alex whilst Terry has a big crush on Buck. Alex however, is in a long-term relationship with Matt who’s an actor away on a long tour but who doesn’t know about Buck. If it sounds complicated, it is and it’s going to get even more complicated when a surprise visitor arrives to shake things up and shatter the status quo.
There are faint echoes of “The Boys In The Band” in Buddy Thomas’s The Crumple Zone with the surprise arrival at a party, complicated relationships and a mixture of pathos and comedy but Thomas’s play bears comparison with Matt Crowley’s award winner.
It’s a very poignant piece that will resonate with anyone in a relationship be they gay or straight. It’s a combination great humour and farce (especially in the second half) – a large blow-up penis makes an appearance at one stage – and moments of contemplation and sadness as the protagonists realise that their lives are pretty mixed up.
The cast of five are all superb with Samuel Tucker’s portrayal of the insecure and bitchy “Terry” the stand-out performance. But he does get all the best lines such as “I like my drinks strong and cheap – like my men” and “I’m so desperate I’d f*ck Don Rickles” (wrinkly, old and not very good looking American comedian). Jack Armstrong as the handsome but slightly dim “Buck”, Kit Loyd as “Alex”, Tim Jennings as “Matt” and Myles Rogerson as “Roger” are all superb and make for a strong ensemble cast. The set is simple with most of the action taking place on (and behind!) a leather sofa placed centre stage but it all works well.
A special mention of Robert McWhir’s superb direction. He brings out the best in the cast and never allows the pace to drop for a moment giving the actors space to breathe and make us feel empathy with the situation they’re in.
The Crumple Zone took its time to cross the Atlantic but judging by this production, it’s been well worth the wait.
Review by Alan Fitter
LAMBCO Productions proudly presents the British Premiere
The Crumple Zone
by Buddy Thomas
Directed by Robert McWhir
Samuel Tucker as Terry
Jack Tompkins as Buck
Tim Jennings as Matt
Myles Rogerson as Roger
Kit Loyd as Alex
Clapham Omnibus, 19th to 23rd December 2016
Pleasance Stagespace, 27th to 29th December 2016
Taking place in a Staten Island apartment over the Christmas holiday season, this hilarious comedy gives a fly-on-the-wall perspective when four friends and a mystery visitor find themselves in just one apartment.