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Max Lewendel

Review: CORPSE! at Park Theatre

Corpse! at Park Theatre Come and enjoy a fun night out in 1930’s London. CORPSE! by Gerald Moon is a classic comedy of mistaken identity, brought back to life by director Clive Brill.

The action begins in the dingy apartment of theatre impresario, Evelyn Farrant (Tom York) as he plots to gain the fortune of his brother Rupert (also Tom York). Evelyn hires retired Irish army Major Powell (delightfully played by Paul Kemp) to murder his brother so he can take his place and steal his fortune. The first half falls a bit flat, but in the second half all is not as it seems and is certainly worth sticking around for.

Kemp’s comic timing is spit on and he particularly shines when he’s the only living character on stage fumbling about with a corpse. Felicity Duncan, as landlady Mrs McGee, breathes new life into what could have been a cliched role and their two heartbeats work in perfect comic synchronicity.

Tom York oozes good-looking charisma as both twins although there could be greater differences between the characters; Evelyn doesn’t quite seem to be the depraved villain described. Still, there is magic in York’s performance particularly during the physical comedy. With the first swap from one brother to the other, I completely forgot it was the same actor falling off the set as came back on half a second later.

The exquisitely detailed stage design by Beth Colley is the perfect backdrop to the crimes. There is an exquisite secret that I won’t spoil here, it’s very impressive in a venue of this size and is wonderfully paired with elaborate, magical costumes by Neil Gordon. Both set and costumes must be seen to be believed.

If you want something truly wet-your-pants funny, maybe give this a miss. But if you’re just looking for a fun night out, some truly skilled design, several magical moments, and some skilled comedy in the second half, then this farce fits the bill.