REVIEW: Octopus Soup at Darlington Hippodrome

Posted on March 4th 2019 by Whats on Northeast

Written by Amanda Tutin

There were some familiar faces on stage for the performance of Octopus Soup at Darlington Hippodrome this week. Nick Hancock (of Room 101 and They Think It’s All Over fame) plays Seymour Norse, an insurance consultant primed to wow the pants off a high flying CEO of an insurance company. Just as he’s about to  connect the video call, lovable rogue Marvin Haynes breaks into Seymour’s house and chaos soon follows. Marvin, played by Paul Bradley (Nigel Bates in Eastenders) is on the rob for anything that will make him a quick quid or two, just to keep him in the good graces of East End gangster Alan, played by Eric Richards (The Bill stalwart Sergeant Bob Cryer).

There’s no steady build up to the story. It’s straight into the mayhem as soon as the stage lights come up and you have to get over the fact pretty quickly that this scenario would never happen in real life. Once you do, it’s slapstick aplenty, but not in the realms of Laurel and Hardy, and the laugh-factor is there with Marvin and his hilarious mispronunciation. Seymour’s wife Gloria, played by Carolyn Backhouse, arrives home part way through the first act and is supposed to be a stressed out ‘luvvie’ who can never seem to get her big break. However, the character comes across as more of an annoyingly psychotic lodger. There was a comedy connection between Marvin and Seymour, but nothing romantically between Gloria and Seymour.

The big wow factor for me was the set. It was fixed for the whole performance, with the exception of the desk/kitchen table moving in the interval. And if I’m honest, I was a little envious of the design skills of Anthony Lamble, the set and costume designer.

Overall, the story was a little out-there with some laughs along the way.

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