Leicester Square Theatre
At the risk of being presumptuous, here is a tip for writers of biographical plays. Don't write a life's story. Write a life's crucial moment out of which the character, facts and foibles of the subject emerge.
That's roughly speaking what Tony Kushner did in his film Lincoln, and it's pretty much what Aaron Sorkin does in his screenplay for the film Steve Jobs. Best not to, as Robert Ross has done in this detailed but dense two-hander about comedian Marty Feldman, directed by Python Terry Jones, construct a play from largely one, long, contrived conversation filled with biographical information.
It takes place mostly in Feldman's Los Angeles bedroom, and on his bed where his wife Lauretta (Rebecca Vaughn) leafs through a magazine while telling Feldman off for being unfaithful but mainly for not being savvy enough when it comes to playing Hollywood to his, and her, advantage.
The comedian, known for his gecko-like protruding eyes that a thyroid condition left pointing hilariously in different directions, is on the verge of breaking America. His hump-backed Igor in Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein has launched Feldman onto the big time.
As Feldman, David Boyle nails the look - apart from the eyes, of course - and particularly the comedian's gentle, self-destructive personality. But he has little more than Ross's punning dialogue with which to illustrate Feldman's mad-cap humour. Boyle and Vaughn work hard to breathe life into this but Brook's Frankenstein wouldn't be able to resuscitate this corpse.