The Reunion is a feature-length debut piece from Tommy Hurst and Bernard Visser – and boy, is it a romp. Set in the ‘Cloak & Hearse’ funeral parlour (no pun intended), the play opens with an apathetic Cloak (Tom Saer) half-heartedly manning the veiled corpse centre-stage. The corpse, which amusingly turns out to be one of the writers, is the centrepiece for all of the dramatic proceedings, as an array of characters will enter to claim the dead man’s riches from the increasingly confused Cloak and Hearse. The stage is set with a peculiar range of items, from some spooky looking candelabras to a Sainsbury’s doughnut multipack. This is, I think, a fitting metaphor for the rest of the show.
Hearse (Angus Moore) enters, with a suave air of weary professionalism, and the two begin a witty back-and-forth that forms the majority of the first third. Their fast pace of delivery and character-commitment keep the show ticking over nicely, and they’re a great comic duo, though they could definitely afford to slow down a bit to allow the audience time to respond to the humour in the script. Because this script is certainly not short on jokes. Hurst and Visser include something for everyone in a melange of one-liners, word-play, puns and surreal comedy. Two personal favourites were an aside mention of Jim from the gym, and the beautifully delivered unexpected question: sharks? One character’s witty observations on Gary Oldman are delivered almost like a stand-up set, which only adds to the surreal humour of the whole thing.
The generic influences on the plot were clear – an undeniably Cluedo-esque Agatha Christie style Whodunnit. But the twists were many and unconventional, as was the characters’ behaviour. The close friends and family, introduced one by one, were increasingly ridiculous. Each seemed to outdo the last in caricature and melodrama, aided by some suitably dramatic lighting and music changes from Will Hayman, which framed their intense monologues. Kathryn Cussons and Sunny Roshan provided a great contrast as potential love interests, both of whom seem far too self-centred to really care, while Sophia Goettke and Joe Capel as his daughter and priest were similarly unmoved and did some hilarious performative ‘mourning’. Bernard Visser, as the wronged business partner, put on a strong impression of a bullish city type, who seemed to only answer to his full title: George ‘fucking’ Clayton.
It is primarily a murder mystery parody, and a farce, but it is delightfully self-aware and almost self-deprecating too. The writing doesn’t take itself too seriously, and so it’s a very endearing watch. Importantly, despite its rude and blue moments, it is never cruel and never punches down. It feels, if anything, like a very long and enjoyable sketch. While it is hard to really get to grips with the characters, or hugely invested in the plot, that doesn’t seem to be the point at all. The Reunion is more about the wacky journey than the destination, and this is a 50 minutes rollercoaster of good silly fun – the perfect light relief for 5th week blues.