Twenty years ago, there was a lot of it about: light comedies afloat in the West End, chronicling the disintegration of a suburban marriage while simultaneously lampooning the middle-class enthusiasm for some hobby or other.
Terry Johnson deftly directs the West End revival of his 1994 play, a sharply observed often painfully funny dark comedy with several dramatic twists, as well as a good dose of slapstick and added custard pies.
Much like 2016 has been unkind to us in taking legends, 1992 took, amongst others, comedy heroes Frankie Howerd and Benny Hill. The Dead Funny Society meets to celebrate the lives of such heroes but in doing this their focus is not where it should be, and some might say life is actually passing them by.
Turns out what I should have been on the lookout for was an Alan Ayckbourn play in sheep’s clothing. And if that’s the way your preferences go, as it seems with the majority of the print critics, then this is the play for you.
Terry Johnson’s revival of his classic 1994 comedy combines, with immense art and heart, real sexual and marital misery with a subtle examination of male fan-boy hobbyism in all its strange, sweet, absurd, retarded innocence.
Why is comedy, in the words of the cliché, such a serious business? One reason is that what we laugh at says a lot about who we are as a nation; another is that the simple “joy of laughter” drowns out the anxieties of life’s little, and not so little, agonies.
Writer and director Terry Johnson will revive his award-winning 1994 comedy DEAD FUNNY with an all-star cast for a limited season at the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre, running from 17 October 2016 to 4 February 2017, with a press night on 3 November. Tickets are now on sale.