David Leddy's crew are all at sea in this choppy dark comedy
Satire, to paraphrase, is often a dish best served cold like a cup of sick. Happily, writer and director David Leddy's new comedy has vomit – along with other bodily fluids – to spare, a scabrous script augmented by Becky Minto and Nich Smith's stunning design and lighting, and short sharp shocks in Danny Krass' white noise between scenes.
Pitched between disaster movie parody and literary adaptation (Moby Dick is a frequent reference, yet many laughs are less high brow), first world problems are explored in the form of a quartet of the elite who pay top dollar to escape from a shattered society to a haven, only to find that this cruise is navigating them towards insanity. It's facilitated by Sarah Cobb (Claire Dargo), a skittish trophy wife who is not quite as Mumsnet and Waitrose as she initially comes across.
Leddy's forensic characterisation punctures pomposity with such glee and intelligence that it's irresistible. Watching Selina Boyack's prim Conservative Sophia go into meltdown when she realises she is surrounded by morally dubious egotists is satisfying, yet Boyack invests her with hidden depths and likeability.
So too with gone-to-seed crooner Ben Spooner (Robin Laing) and self-aggrandizing photojournalist Arian Martens (Lesley Hart). Both could have been despicable, but are playfully and vulnerably performed, particularly when forced into confronting their biggest fears and prejudices.
The self-reflexive device of having them 'trapped in a metaphor' for social stratification works as both distancing and funny, and the sense of both merry anarchy and pathos ensures that it works on many levels – even if the twist feels slightly forced.
Reviewed at Tron Theatre, Glasgow.