The phrase “Yippe Ki Yay” originated in the 19th-century Western United States, making its way into the 1988 film Die Hard entirely within the context of old Westerns: it closes a scene in which Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber accuses Bruce Willis’s John McClane of having seen to many John Wayne films and the latter answers he always preferred Roy Rogers.
Though the show adds the words “the Die Hard parody” in brackets at the end of its title just to be sure, I wouldn’t imagine there is a soul on Earth that went into a show named Yippe Ki Yay looking for a musical about the Old West, such is the hold Die Hard now has over the phrase. It has since been said in every sequel (and a poster) without even an attempt at another cowboy reference, the franchise itself providing its context now.
Written by Richard Marsh, who also originated the role last Fringe, and directed by Hal Chambers, this version of the show stars Darrel Bailey as the Die Hard superfan and our guide into the world of Die Hard. His retelling of the original film comes in verse, with impressions of all the different characters ranging from an evocative Bruce Willis to a caricature Alan Rickman, going through the plainly inaccurate in the case of some of the henchmen. The sum is punctuated by snapshots into the film’s biggest impact on his life: his relationship with his wife.
This latter aspect is the heart of the show, while the former gives us the laughs as we watch this one man attempt to recreate a large-budget action-film on his own, on stage, with only a few boxes of props, imitating what he can, replacing what he can’t, and critiquing where he dares. Personally, I think Holly’s agency in the film has aged like small potatoes compared to Al Powell’s arc of relearning it’s okay for police officers to shoot-to-kill people in the street, but hey, this is a comedy show for people who love a film.
Bailey handles both the humour and heart of the show with aplomb, giving the audience a journey through a story they (probably) love but with its own unique slant, fully earning the standing ovation I am sure he earned on more than one occasion. This show delivers exactly what it says on the tin, adding just enough to stand on its own and provide a full experience, even for audiences who may not know the film outside of its memes and cultural reference points. No Yippe Ki Nay, this is a complete Yippy Ki Yay.
Reviewer: Oliver Giggins
Reviewed: 25th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: