The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
October 7, 8, 9 & 10, 2009.
by Ben Elton
John Garland – Karl Brezner
Bob Ryder – Bruce Delamitri
Sophie Lane – Velvet Delamitri
Zoë Edden – Farrah Delamitri
Guy Steddon – Wayne Hudson
Anna Quick – Scout
Amanda Urwin-Mann – Brook Daniels
Allegra Drury – Kirsten
David Thomas – Bill
Director’s Assistant – Fiona Cameron
Stage Manager – Fiona Cameron
Deputy Stage Manager – Natalie Colgate
Lighting Design – Mike Medway
Video Projection & Animation – Andy Etter
Sound Design – Steve Gallant
Light & Sound Operation – Lee Wenham
Set Construction – David Comber
Set Construction – Carl Gray
Set Construction – Dave Collis
Set Construction – Paul Checkley
Set Painting & Dressing – Sue Chaplin
Set Painting & Dressing – Sheila Neesham
Set Painting & Dressing – Margaret Davy
Wardrobe – Cherry Briggs
Wardrobe – Zoey Attree
Press & Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Displays – Rosemary Brown
Poster Design – Clare Hall
Publicity Photography – Lucien Bouchy
Front of House – Betty Dawes
Programme Note #1: Popcorn
Bruce Delamitri is a movie director on a mission – winner of the Best Director Oscar, he’s the hero of the MTV generation for his violent films which, he claims, simply hold up a mirror to real life and portray the lives of ordinary Americans. But in a world where explosive and extreme violence is becoming common place, it is time to admit that art doesn’t only imitate life – it influences it.
Popcorn is Elton’s satirical take on the shallow inhabitants of Hollywood and the movie -culture of the nineties. His brutal honesty and acerbic wit arte perfectly suited to the subject matter and although cynical, the dark humour is never far beneath the surface. As one of his earlier forays into writing, it remains one of his strongest pieces to date.
Popcorn was first published as a book in 1996 and Elton himself adapted the story into a play which was first presented with The West Yorkshire Playhouse at the Nottingham playhouse in September 1996 and subsequently presented at the Apollo Theatre, London, in April 1997.”
Review #1: Popcorn
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Sam Woodman
Murder, mayhem and satire were the backbone of Wick Theatre Company’s latest production. Southwick’s Barn Theatre was packed last week for performances of Popcorn, directed by Steven Gallant, and the audience wasn’t disappointed.
First published in 1996, Popcorn is Ben Elton’s fourth novel, and satirises the media’s influence on people’s actions. The stage adaptation was set in the Hollywood home of movie director Bruce Delamitri [Bob Ryder], the recipient of an Oscar – a controversial choice, given his penchant for extremely violent, albeit stylish, motion pictures.
After collecting his award, Delamitri continues the party back at home, blissfully unaware that two unsavoury characters are having a party of their own upstairs. Serial killers Wayne Hudson [Guy Steddon] and Scout [Anna Quick], the notorious Mail Murderers, had made their way to the director’s house, hell-bent on meeting their idol and getting one last piece of publicity before their world came crashing down.
Satirising the media’s handling of 1990’s films such as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Natural Born Killers, Popcorn was darkly comic and always thought-provoking. Ryder, Steddon and Quick were in their usual fine form, with the lead players backed by strong performances by John Garland, Amanda Urwin-Mann, Sophie Lane, Zoë Edden, Allegra Drury and David Thomas. Mike Medway’s lighting added to the ambience as always, while a projected animation, handled by Andy Etter, really made Popcorn stand out.
The ovation which greeted the stars of the show at their curtain call was well-deserved – not just by them, but by all involved.
Review #2: Popcorn
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Barrie Jerram
Text Header: Hollywood hypocrisy shown up in excellent Elton effort
WICK Theatre Company’s entry to Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards is Popcorn, Ben Elton’s play that shows up the shallowness of Hollywood life while providing a moral debate.
The hybrid play – part black comedy, part violent thriller – is also a paradox that uses gratuitous violence to preach against the same. It is a pity that Elton peppers the first act with his trademark but unnecessary sexual humour. This, and an overlong striptease sequence, makes one wonder if he is not writing out his own sexual fantasies.
The home of Bruce Delamitri, a film director in the style of Tarantino, is invaded by two psychopathic killers, Wayne and his girlfriend Scout. They have been on a murderous rampage and seek to hang the responsibility of their actions on Delamitri and his films. The play concludes by discussing the absence of guilt and the transfer of responsibility. A witty epilogue satirises the compensation culture that blights modern life.
There are tremendous performances from Guy Steddon and Anna Quick as the trailer trash killers. He is all brawn and little brain – his education comes from watching TV, while hers is from the magazines she reads and quotes. Both successfully blend naivety with ruthlessness, often to great comic effect. Bob Ryder captures Delamitri’s professional vanity and cringe-making defence of his art while Zoe Edden is impressive as his shallow, alcoholic wife.
With other good performances from the cast, the production is enhanced by a realistic set and clever animation.
Review #3: Popcorn
Publication: N.O.D.A – National Operatic and Dramatic Association
Reviewer: Phillip Hall Regional representative for South East Region District 1 – Mid Sussex
What a most interesting evening! Sex, violence and comedy are seldom on display together on the amateur stage. Combine these with the ethical debate on the liberal display of sex and violence in all sections of the media and you have the convoluted thinking of Ben Elton.
There was not a weakness in the cast but it must be said that Guy Steddon, as Wayne Hudson, succeeded in being the dominant, larger than life figure with a remarkably confident and powerful performance. His dramatic mood changes were dangerously close to over-acting but he managed to never quite cross the line. Anna Quick, as Scout, his girlfriend and sidekick, gave a lovely portrayal ranging from funny to frightful very competently.
The Delamitri family, with all their insecurities and instabilities, were extremely well played by Bob Ryder, Sophie Lane and Zoë Edden, while Amanda Urwin-Mann, as Brooke Daniels, was a delightful predatory fly in Bruce’s ointment. John Garland made the most of what is not, after all, a pivotal rôle.
This was a splendid production of a very difficult choice of play which was bound to present audiences with the dilemma of knowing whether to enjoy it or not. In this case, everyone must have admired the performance if not the content.
Well done everyone and thank you for a most entertaining evening.
Review #4: Popcorn
Publication: Remote Goat – online
Publication Data: October 9 2009
Reviewer: Jill Lawrie
Text Header: “Tense explosive award winning thriller”
Ben Elton’s best selling novel Popcorn, published in 1996, is a satirical take on the American movie culture and is based on an egotistical film director who specialises in violent films. A cynical brutal tale well suited to Elton’s astute word play.
In this case “Ordinary Americans” has been nominated for an Oscar and the play opens with the director and producer discussing which clip to use for the event. The action is set over a 24 hour period both pre and post the award ceremony. Bruce Delamitri (director) returns triumphant with his latest muse to find a pair of psychopaths have broken into his Hollywood apartment, continuing their killing spree under the misguided assumption that their hero will ultimately redeem them from punishment.
Wick Theatre Company have chosen this piece as their entry for the Brighton & Hove Arts Council Drama Awards, having won it last year with Richard III. Director Steve Gallant has used an attractively furnished set complete with animal print accessories and a padded corner bar. These are coupled with some excellent special/sound effects and cleverly projected images. A talented cast took on the roles of the over-the-top characters and worked their way through much adult language and brutality! Particular mention for Anna Quick (Scout) who shone throughout in her supporting role as one half of the mass murdering duo.
This was a well presented sharp performance of Elton’s tense, violent comic thriller and was much enjoyed by an appreciative audience, though posing the question ~ is a violent society reflected in violent movies ~ or do violent movies create a violent society?