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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Yippee Ki Yay

James Seabright

Genre: Comedic, Poetry-Based Theatre, Theatre

Venue: Gilded Balloon at The Museum


Low Down

Die Hard re-telling, blended with Richard Marsh’s journey into fatherhood : Welcome to the party !


Die Hard was a seminal 80’s movie, starring Bruce Willis. If you haven’t seen the film, you might well get more from Yippee Ki Yay if you watch it first, but a quick plot summary is as follows : It’s Christmas Eve and New York cop John McClane has set out to visit his estranged wife and children in Los Angeles. The film opens with McClane on a plane, then chauffeured to his wife’s swanky workplace, a 40-odd storey tower where the remainder of the action takes place. A group led by Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber take over the building, initially seeming to be terrorists, but in reality highly organised thieves. The are seeking to relieve the Nakatomi corporation of the $640m worth of bonds contained in the building, holding the employees hostage, one of whom of course is Mrs McClane. McClane conceals himself and embarks upon a one-man battle with the group. The film was enormously successful, spawning four sequels and video games.

The writer of this show, Richard Marsh, is evidently a bit of a fan. He lovingly re-tells the film, while gently signposting its plot holes. But, as in the film, here’s a plot twist : the performer (Darrel Bailey) is also recounting Marsh’s personal journey from single man to father, in parallel with Die Hard. And here comes another plot twist : much of the show, reflecting Marsh’s lauded background as a poet, is delivered in rhyme. Die Hard was the film Marsh and future wife Jen watched on their first date and it becomes a constant in their lives thereafter. And we eventually progress to the moment when the couple have become parents and their marriage is under pressure. Marsh draws parallels to the scene in Die Hard where the two cops are discussing whether they are bad fathers and his own doubts about his suitability for fatherhood. He wryly observes that Die Hard was predicated on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever, hoping that this is not a portent.

Bailey delivers these parallel tales in some style. He engagingly brings the audience in to both stories, weaving seamlessly from one to the other, occasionally even breaking the fourth wall. He rises to the challenge of the poetic aspect of the show adeptly and under the smart direction of Hal Chambers, the pace never lets up. The set is minimal, some black boxes with carefully arranged props such as a watering can and teddy bears.

On one level, this is a superbly comedic piece of Fringe theatre. The show is littered with jokes that hit their mark, e.g. describing Rickman as “the German who speaks like he went to Rada”, the cinematic references clever, e.g. Gruber’s iconic demise and Bailey’s voicework to depict the main protagonists is enthralling. However, having Marsh’s doubts, aspirations and loves laid bare is a deeper, more poignant, joy ; this is fine, engaging 75 minutes, highly recommended.