BWW Review: ONE GIANT LEAP, Jack Studio Theatre
Teddy Price's sci-fi series is failing. He's desperate to be renewed for a second season, but the suits in Hollywood aren't playing ball even though it's 1969 and Apollo 11 is about to take off. Suddenly a Secret Service guy shows up with a briefcase full of dough, packing the means to make the deal stick. "Fake the moon landing for the President..."
Ross MacGregor has conjured a decent set-up and has a strong track record with Arrows and Traps, but this show never gets off the ground. The whole Capricorn One faking trope gets lost far too early (at one point, the stakes are sky-high, a moment later, it doesn't matter) so it's hard to maintain investment in the characters. Soon, we're back to Earth with a thump, as we realise we're in yet another backstage drama with the stereotypes outnumbering the laughs by warp factor 10.
The first half frankly grates a little, as we're introduced to the insecure one (Lucy Ioannou giving everything as usual), the clumsy klutz (Will Pinchin in fine slapstick form), the tart with a heart (Vivian Belosky, heroically green throughout), the camp song and dance man (Daniel Ghezzi, good at stretching) and the vain leading man (Steven Jeram in a polo neck).
Christopher Tester presides over this forlorn bunch, whose show has more than a touch of Plan 9 From Outer Space about it, as the stressed out director, Teddy, with Charlie Ryall as his on-off professional and personal partner Carol,, both of whom scheme against Alex Stevens, behind the shades and under the crew cut as Agent Harris.
Things improve in the second half (it's a long show at almost two and a half hours), particularly when Alchamy (insecure one) talks to Linda (tart with a heart) about what it's like to be an actress making her way in LA. The very different women find plenty in common and the pathos counterbalances the frenetic pace of the pratfalls and prattling. There's some good company work too, with the cast going full "Major Tom" towards the end, as hope (as it does in Hollywood) suddenly flashes across an empty sky.
But a comedy really has to have more laughs and/or more interesting characters if it's to fly to the Moon. Unfortunately, this one is more a stumble than a giant leap.