Edinburgh Fringe 2013
"1976-1988. Two fat men pretend to fight each other. 100 million watch. This multi award-winning comedy/play brings back to grunting, grappling life two hugely popular behemoths and the bizarre world they bestrode. Herald Angel winner Ross Gurney-Randall (Follow Me, Mussolini) and Dave Mounfield (Count Arthur Strong, This is Jinsey) play an all-star cast including Dickie Davies, Paul McCartney, Chris Tarrant, Frank Sinatra and Princess Margaret. From the writers of Those Magnificent Men. "
I have just enjoyed a play about wrestlers ! ! !
I didn’t think that was possible, and it’s so good to be proved wrong .
Wrestling was once the new rock’n’roll ! In the late 70s it was wrestlers rather than TV chefs, rappers or stand-up comics who viisted sick children in hospital- they were heroes!
Big Daddy versus Giant Haystacks is not just a play about two wrestlers or even wrestling for that matter; It’s a story about the lifecycle of an entertainment genre. In the 40s music Hall burned bright only to be extinguished by Cinema in the 50s – in 70s TV land wrestling’s candle was put out by the cheapest sport to televise, darts! The candle snuffer being firmly held by Greg Dyke of LWT.
So could I really feel sympathy for wrestling and its demise? When the story is as well written and as generously played as this show, the answer is a resounding yes.
Big Daddy versus Giant Haystacks moves so cleverly between scenes that it is sometimes hard to believe we’re only watching two actors. Even when Dave Mounfield stands on a case and puts on a ridiculous caveman wig to become Giant Haystacks we just go with it – one minute later he may be back to promoter, then . . . . Margaret Thatcher? Ross Gurney-Randall doesn’t need to stand on a case – he is immediately Big Daddy or American impresario; admittedly you have to use your imagination to see him as Paul McCartney with a mullet.
We are guided majestically from the sport’s rough beginnings to its death via the all-star British wrestling that I remember as a child, the wrestling my Irish Nana loved watching – ‘what a lovely fella he is – look at him there in the purple pants – look out ! he’s coming over the ropes ! ‘( she also loved Tarzan by the way – Brian Mitchell , if you’re reading this – idea for next show – the rise and fall of Tarzan! ) .
As an audience we we’re whisked at perfect pace through the story and treated to wonderful set pieces which use the simple set and props to great effect – as each prop was used up it was dumped into a dustbin on the side of the stage which left us in no doubt we had moved into the next part of the story. We know the show has ended as the bin leaves the stage with the cast.
I believe too many reviews retell the plot of the show, so I will just say Big Daddy versus Giant Haystacks is a show packed with laughs, pathos and charm. It is superbly acted and beautifully, if simply presented.
Bring on Tarzan