Sunday, March 17, 2013

I went to see Takin' Over The Asylum by accident really. I'd trotted along to the Lyceum to see (the turgid) Time And The Conways and queueing to collect the tickets, I was lured into lashing out £7:50 on a ticket for the preview of Takin'.

I'd vaguely clocked some of the press - based on a TV programme from the seventies, it presented us with a radio show set in a mental hospital - and feared it presented a prize opportunity for hideous crassness so had thought I'd keep away. But £7:50 for theatrical education. A small price to pay.

So Wednesday was the night. I went with no expectations. (Common theme here.) And came away delighted.

It is arguably a contrived and not very original plot. Washed up not even a DJ pitches up at a hospital plump with do-gooding doctors and / or administrators and patients plump with mental ill-health. He is charged with setting up an in-house radio station, starts out and he is shunned. Finishes up the play and he is loved, heralded and acclaimed. It's not quite so straight-forward as that - various obstacles are thrown in along the way - but you get the basic construct.

But what elevates this from just another 'turn your on-stage audience around' story is a rather fabulous cast. Our washed up DJ was played by a brilliant chap called (I think) Iain Robertson. There was a beautifully observed hospital administrator woman who walked with just the right degree of pointless self-important purpose. The hospital patients - oh how easy it would have been to be too glib or trite or flippant or just too cavalier. And I'm no expert but I think this lot did a pretty good job.

It was helped along by a clever old beige set and lovely very lovely lighting. And of course the radio station plot gave the perfect excuse for a rousing Northern (I think) Soul soundtrack.

All in all, it was a delight. Funny. Very funny sometimes. Nicely poignant at others. Think Little Voice with more people, more troubles and (sadly) no over-bearing mother. I wouldn't roll out all of the stars but I'd give it an emphatic four. So if you like the sound of the above, you could do far worse than lash out for a non-preview ticket. You have three weeks.


Blogger Neil C said...

Wasn't Takin' Over The Asylum on telly about ten years ago? Maybe it was set in the 70's though. I remember it (I didn't watch it, but it was supposed to be pretty good)...

9:11 am  
Blogger Claire said...

It was on telly about thirty years ago, I think. It's an adaptation of that very TV show. I guess they must have updated it a bit - though maybe not. I didn't see the TV show so hard to comment on whether it's an improvement or not!

12:40 am  

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