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The D-List (Edinburgh Fringe): Review

d-list Samuel Curry in 'The D-List'.

Funny, scathing, and damning, The D-List is an A-List comedy takedown of reality TV culture, starring reality TV star, Samuel Curry.


Jamie came second in ‘Britain’s Worst Singer’ reality TV contest. Still working as a hotel porter, and after a sweary faux pas on Children in Need, his agent has her sights set on the big time. But with Jamie’s relationship and friendship under threat, he’s soon to learn that all that glitter’s isn’t gold when you’re on the D-List!

Writing

The cult of “celebrity” is a national irritant, although simultaneously a guilty pleasure. But also, the entertainment business is itself a dirty beast, and there isn’t anyone who really doesn’t know that. Both, have been constantly doused with satirical petrol and set alight naked in the village square many times already. So what can David Hendon actually add to the overall reality TV stardom takedown with The D-List? If I’m honest, not much. The degrading compromises and the cynical marketing hasn’t change much of late, so Hendon’s raking over the coals doesn’t reveal anything hidden beneath the ash.

However, as a piece of entertainment, The D-List is still a funny romp through the trials and tribulations of minor celebrity that it’s something you certainly shouldn’t avoid. What’s great about Hendon’s writing is that it strikes a good balance of natural and down to earth characterisations and scathing stylised comedy. The fake TV show names, and the piss-take of existing has-beens, show Hendon as a razor wit with an unmerciful aggro range. Then there are plenty of brilliant left-field one liners which don’t fail to make you laugh out loud. But Hendon can also write, among the kooky ridiculousness and the over-the-top caricatures of some characters, people who feel believable and real.

The result is that The D-List is not some overly farcical shallow guff, but a comedy that puts the reality back into reality TV, but isn’t apologetic about ripping t0 shreds the surreality of it all!

Direction and Production

Shrapnel Theatre, who were also behind the rather good Underground at The Vaults Festival this year, have put together a tight production behind The D-List, too. Phil Croft’s direction pushes a good pace to make sure the comic tone never lags, but also leaves space for some sincere intimacy when it does crop up. Helping this is a great delivery of sound and lighting design, in that the execution of sound cues and lighting changes, splicing in wonderfully surreal and silly moments, is perfect and thus supports the comedy and ensures it doesn’t stumble.

Performance

Leading the bill is ex-reality TV star, Samuel Curry, from The Apprentice. Curry holds himself well as beleaguered fame-bunny and manages to slowly bring out his inner ego despite his character starting off as timid and a bit useless. Sylvie Briggs as Jamie’s girlfriend, Jen, is feisty and believable as a person. It’s a really nice portrayal of just someone who is caught up in the mucky maelstrom of stardom. You really feel for her and actually care about her stake in her relationship with Jamie and the rapport between Curry and Briggs is organically tender and sweet.

Stealing the show, however, are: Jonathan Matthews as best friend Max, and Helen Rose Hampton as hellish PR Diana and other characters. Both expertly embody Hendon’s great caricatures of the desperate laddish friend, and the fiendish gargoyles of the entertainment business respectively. Sporting excellent comic deliveries and are the cornerstones of pretty much all the laughs in the show.

Verdict

A surefire vote winner, it’ll be a scandal to miss The D-List.

The D-List plays at Underbelly Med Quad (venue 302), Edinburgh, EH8 9AG, until 29 August. Tickets are £9.50 (concessions available). To book, visit tickets.edfringe.com.

1 Comment on The D-List (Edinburgh Fringe): Review

  1. Alan Michael // 16th August 2016 at 11:28 //

    “reality TV star and walking oxymoron Samuel Curry”

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