Maverick Charles Productions’ Until the Ad Break, written by Hugo Lewkowicz and directed by Emily Fitzpatrick, is a clever and surreal look at life in lockdown adapted from their previously sold out show, 21 minutes.
Taking place during a lockdown recording of daytime magazine show, The Hello Show, the opening of the play is reminiscent of This Time with Alan Partridge, as we hear about the evils of quinoa and listen to the co-hosts, Dale Maxton (Bradley Pascall) and Francine Quick (Ellie Stewart-Dodd) bicker while off-air. But there is a twist. This episode of The Hello Show has begun 21 minutes before the apocalypse.
Hysterical weatherman, Gabriel Spring (Emily Fitzpatrick) brings warning of fire and brimstone rather than the usual sunshine and showers and there’s a special guest appearance from the newest of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, The Murder Hornet (Hugo Lewkowicz). Some nice glimpses of the Viewers (Tom Kirby and Phoebe Lynch) watching at home and reacting to what they are seeing add an original spin to the show.
The downbeat Producer (Haris Nabi) quickly loses patience with Dale and Francine as they rapidly hop between all of the stages of grief. The combination of regular daytime television elements, such as asking the Murder Hornet not to swear live on television, and frantic declarations of love as time runs out, make this a bizarre and truly entertaining piece.
Well performed throughout, Stewart-Dodd is particularly strong showing a wide range of emotions and panic, comparable with Katherine Parkinson’s work in The IT Crowd. Pascall is also excellent as Dale revels in his denial and presses on with the show.
This is a delightfully awkward comedy which combines the current climate with an even stronger sense of impending doom. Extraordinarily funny and irresistibly compelling, Until the Ad Break is an excellent and unmissable comedy.
Until the Ad Break is being streamed on Online @theSpaceUK until 30th August 2020 https://online.thespaceuk.com/watch-shows/comedy#h.1ukcak73ukc8
Reviewer: Donna M Day
Reviewed: 24th August 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★