Why do live productions have to be two-and-a-half hours with a 20-minute intermission? They don’t. The new comedy at London’s Grand Theatre is 90 -minutes long with no intermission, and although they’ll sell fewer drinks and treats, it makes for a short and sweet night out for the bleary-eyed and under-slept. Sometimes you give a theatrical comedy a bit of leeway. The dialogue isn’t quite natural, the jokes are contrived, but if you’re like me, you’ve seen so many bad productions that the relief of a giggle or two gets more credit than it earns.
Not so for Fly Me to the Moon. It’s truly, genuinely, surprisingly funny! It’s an Irish comedy, set in the recession, about two homecare workers whose elderly patient, Davy, dies in the bathroom. Francis and Loretta are struggling. Loretta’s husband has been out of work a long time and is now fixated on getting on a TV game show. All of their girlfriends are going to Madrid for a hen’s weekend, but they can’t afford it. Davy’s got a pension and a penchant for playing the ponies. It all starts with one lie and then it spirals out of control.
Not since Sean Cullen took ill in the Toronto production of The Producers have I witnessed an actor break character in a big, professional show. Friday night, a bat started swooping around the stage and it obviously freaked out Francis (Deidre Gillard-Rollings). Loretta (Carmen Grant) burst out laughing. The audience roared along because, when a bat is flying back and forth over your head, if you don’t acknowledge it, something’s wrong!
Fly Me to the Moon is a wonderful show. Funny. Never boring. Beautifully performed with fast dialogue and hilarious physical comedy on one set with just two actors on stage and another, briefly, via voice only. It’s at the Grand until January 30th.