First published in The Times, Wednesday August 23 2017
Andy Gray and Grant Stott are best known as two-thirds of the comedy team that has made the pantomime at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre such a winner (the other point of the performing triangle being the entertainer Allan Stewart). In recent years, they have branched out into “straight” theatre, appearing in sold-out plays at the fringe and on tour. Their show, Kiss Me, Honey, Honey!, proved such a hit in 2013 that it returned to the festival the following August.
This new play, written by Philip Differ, features a story of sorts, about two lifelong pals faced with the task of clearing out the cinema they attended together as children. Around this pretext are a series of recreations of iconic silver screen scenes and images, offering a rich showcase for the pair’s clowning talents. The plot only gets going in the last five minutes, culminating in a tragic twist that feels a little out of place in such a madcap show.
Along the way, Mikey and Davy bicker over who gets to be Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven, debate the plausibility of the horse’s head sequence in The Godfather and imagine themselves in the title role of Spartacus. Differ’s script also makes room for the pair to look back nostalgically at cinema trips of their youth, from the bar of unyielding pink nougat purchased at the kiosk to the perfume worn by Suzy, the usherette. Jimmy Murray, aka “Henry Fondle”, the Regal’s sleazy manager, is among the show’s enjoyable comic creations.
Ryan Dewar’s production builds in enough gaps to allow the performers to occasionally break the fourth wall, ad lib, corpse, and even indulge in a couple of references to Stott’s beloved Hibernian FC. The show is an odd hybrid of play, panto and extended sketch show that nonetheless makes the best possible use of the double act’s talents and performing chemistry.