Brian and Roger Podcast
comes to The Mixing Room
“I live in the shadows.”
I think the Menier Chocolate Factory have got it right. Their new space, The Mixing Room opens up under their main building for a two hander comedy show which made its name as a podcast. Highly inventive it taps into a younger audience, the one who fills the Soho Theatre every night in its comedy/stand up spaces. The 150 seat Mixing Room may be more experimental.
This act of bravura comes in the week where The Mirror and the Light announces it will be closing a couple of months earlier than extended to. We have all worked out that plays depending on an older market will be more challenged. Older people, readers rather than podcast listeners, who love Hilary Mantel’s books, are less likely to venture out on public transport, into crowded spaces and more concerned about the wearing of facemasks that the rest of us, who are fed up of steamed up glasses and hot faces.
So The Mixing Room venture was packed last night with laughter. Brian and Roger were created by Harry Peacock and Dan Skinner as podcasts and on stage, Simon Lipkin who has great comic versatility, remember him in Avenue Q and Rock of Ages plays Brian the wheeler dealer, opportunist and Dan Skinner is Roger, Brian’s stooge.
The idea that they are both divorced plays little part in the plot except to make the point that Roger is always owing money and Brian is setting up scams to escape any responsibility for alimony. Roger is hoping that Claire will forgive him and welcome him back into the family home with his son Jamie. Brian is into false passports and illegal deals with dangerous business partners.
Persuasive, Brian will lure Roger into agreeing to take part so, for instance, he will suggest Roger plays the part of a medium at a séance run by someone who lives in West Ruislip. What Brian omits is that Roger is expected to answer questions on 1980s history as if he is the spirit of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu to Ceaușescu’s grandson. This will turn out to be a lose, lose situation for the hapless Roger.
Robert Jones designs and Timothy Bird’s wonderful videos take us world wide through the windows of the set. The acting is believable even where the plot might not be. I started to feel compassion for Roger although of course it is his own stupidity to keep falling for Brian’s ridiculous schemes. All the dialogue is on mobile phones to each other but David Babani’s direction keeps the action fresh with the lights out for anything too gruelling.
If I tell you that in the first ten minutes there are two instances of bare bums being lowered into places where they are not welcome, you’ll have an idea of the humour level. The story arcs get more and more ludicrous and I don’t know how Roger came out of the Longleat Lion Safari Park school visit with his limbs intact while wearing a coverall from the abattoir stained with pig’s body parts and blood.
Brian and Roger isn’t my perfect evening in the theatre and I’ll think I’ll stick to Alan Bennett and the Menier’s next production of Habeas Corpus with the wonderful Jasper Britton or the currently running incredible Indecent, but good luck to those who love to laugh at imaginative flights of fancy and desperation and let’s hope this fills the coffers of this super producing theatre.
Brian and Roger
Written by Harry Peacock and Dan Skinner
Directed by David Babani
Director: David Babani
Designer: Robert Jones
Lighting Designer: Paul Anderson
Sound Designer: Gregory Clarke
Video Director: Timothy Bird
Running Time: Two hours including an interval
Booking to 18th December 2021