Life Without Oscar

By Nick Cohen
Unity Theatre
23rd October 2013

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Fool's Gold

As I entered, Nick Cohen was edgily warming up with the audience in some pre-performance Oscars banter, before the footlights in the Unity's Studio 2 dimmed and his hour long monologue commenced.

It is a big ask to keep the audience, (not a bad turn out), engrossed for this length of time, especially when you are playing several roles, including that of the eponymous award, while the on stage statuette itself doubled as a telephone now and again.

Nick travelled to Los Angeles to re-define his life, and in the process search for a way to attain Hollywood's Holy Grail. On the path to attempt this he rubs up against all the barriers that, as he calls it, 'Holy Wood' can come up with. He does not however start without some prospects, as his references from the likes of Todd at the BBC, James, 'a true Brit, and the likes of Jack and Ron are there to assist him. Not to mention his friend Gerry, who puts him up in his Sunset Boulevard apartment.

A previous winner of the award himself, Gerry well knows how to screw the system and confides that there are three easy rules to ensure success for Nick. First, however, come the obstacles. Even the taxi driver, who brings him from the airport, knows he is in virgin territory and there are a lot worse predators than him to suck the new bird dry.

Getting through the minefield of promoters, agents, pr and money men and owners is bad enough before the producers, directors, writers and performers can be contemplated.

Then there is the swamp of sexual distractions awash on Malibu Beach, the bars and the film sets to have to deal with. Finally, to get on the selection panel's short list is the biggest task of all. Yep, Hollywood can eat you up and spit you out without even trying.

Our erstwhile hero goes through the gamut of emotional turmoil and distraction, whilst trying to cling on to some sort of normalcy and contact with life back home. There are lots of setbacks and heartache along the way. It all builds to the glamour, glitz, tears and heartache of Awards Night.

Will Nick make it? Has he chosen correctly? What can the next aspiring wannabes hope to learn?

This was a tall act to pull off, but as writer and performer Cohen maintained enough momentum to be warmly applauded at the end. Director Alison Goldie and lighting/sound design from Julie Kearney did not have to be extravagant but they did the necessary.

However the sheepish encore from between the curtained backdrop left a small question as to how the centre of proceedings felt it had gone.

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