The Old Ones – sorry, but Vulcan 7 is a damp squib

Vulcan 7, by Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer

Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford

Monday, September 24

Oh dear. I was so looking forward to a good laugh. But this didn’t deliver. It had moments of fun and I did laugh out loud on a number of occasions, but this could have been so much more.

Set in a trailer on an active volcano in Iceland during filming of a sci-fi film, Vulcan 7 is really about two ageing actors and their historic rivalry. Both having trained at Rada, one is a former hell raiser who can’t forget lines from the many performances he’s been in (Adrian Edmondson), the other always playing second fiddle (Nigel Planer). Now they’ve been reduced to an alien in an awful costume (Edmonson) and a series of butlers with upper-crust accents (Planer).

Meanwhile, the young runner Leela, played by Lois Chimimba, tries to keep the two from drinking themselves to death (Edmonson) or killing each other as they find themselves trapped in a tipping trailer on the wrong side of a widening chasm as the volcano becomes far more active than they’d like. This young woman may or may not be the daughter of either of the two actors.

So. While Edmonson does his best to keep the sitcom style play afloat, Planer is ponderous, almost apathetic in his performance, and gives little for the others to play off, forcing Chimimba to ratchet up her performance to overdone levels.

The whole play is just a bit dull and dated – it doesn’t say anything new about what it is to be old in the film industry, and there were moments of downright amateurishness (in the worst sense) such as when Planer can be seen in front of the window before suddenly rushing on for his next scene.

The set was fun – the trailer tilting to alarming angles during the course of the play. It was probably the best part of the show. But the set can’t save the play.

It’s all about as sad as the lives of the two old actors they’re portraying. I can’t be the only one in the audience to have been thinking ‘oh if only Rik Mayall had been involved…’.

Maybe the actors were thinking it too… hence the lacklustre performances. Or perhaps they’re just knackered.

I’m so disappointed. Guys, you’re better than this.

Kat Wootton