Artwork Credit: Mark Demuth
On the opening night of Not the Horse at the Unity Theatre, Naughty Corner Productions have brought their show home to Liverpool after successful performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Brighton Fringe Festival. Written and directed by Naughty Corner co-founder Mike Dickinson, Not the Horse is a frantic tale of friendship, loyalty, and horse semen.
Naughty Corner’s second show Not the Horse is a surreal crime comedy reminiscent of Guy Ritchie’s early work. Not the Horse tells the story of Tony (Nick Sheedy), a twenty-year-old Scouser, who has gotten into a whole heap of trouble after making an illegal horse racing bet with a notorious London gangster and losing. Tony and his friends Paul (Michael Hawkins) and Stan (Warren Kettle) have just four days to come up with the £250,000 he now owes or they will suffer a very nasty fate at the hands of Dom Jones, sorry, I mean Dom Juan (Tom Silverton) and his gang. Throw in a group of Irish men desperate for money themselves and the mysterious, smooth talking, gravelly voiced, stern Silk (Daniel Carmichael) and you are ready to ride on a rollercoaster of hilarity having your picture taken as you whiz through at 60mph.
As the story progresses and panic increases the tension becomes tangible but don’t worry because each group have a plan, of sorts. It soon becomes clear that each of them are just little boys in way over their heads. And who exactly is Silk and what does he want?
Lights and slow motion are used in unique ways to give the play a cinematic feel. The cast used all areas of the theatre, walking among the audience which added to the disorientating nature of the show. Frequent references to Disney and magical dust clouds of cocaine bring a sense of the fantastical as the characters and your own grip on reality loosens. Add plenty of physical comedy, word play and a mixed up mad soundtrack, and you have a hysterical farce which goes right to the edges before violently springing back together at the end – or is it?
The large energetic cast performed wonderfully in this highly energetic deceptively complex show. Hawkins’ and Kettle’s performances are particularly memorable and hapless gangster Face, a slow witted heavy with surprising depths, is brilliantly portrayed by Michael Treanor.
Not the Horse will make you laugh out loud and questioning how far you would go to help your friends, and whether they (and you) are in any way normal.