Tiny Volcanoes

Written by Laurence Wilson
Directed by James Grieve
Everyman Theatre
Wednesday 20th April 2011

Reviewed by Laura Naylor

Tiny Volcanoes explores the notion of a ‘broken Britain’, which seems to be a hot topic of conversation these days and it’s not difficult to find someone with an opinion on how it could/should be fixed. “It’s not a normal play”, the actors reveal to the audience in a trailer projected at the start of the performance. It was only as I was forced to take part in an off key rendition of the British national anthem that I realised I should have taken this disclaimer more seriously.

Kevin Harvey and Michael Ryan play, well, Kevin and Michael, two friends who are fiercely proud of their roots as ‘cheeky’ scousers AND as Brits. However, Kevin is having a baby with Michael’s sister and he is beginning to question his ability to support his new family and the ethical implications of bringing a child into the confused world we currently live in. Their lyrical arguments of living in Britain, mixed in with various sketches, interactions with projections and poetry certainly provided a “rollercoaster ride” through what being British means to people now.

The majority of the sketches, one consisting of a ‘Universally Challenged’ quiz show were absolutely hilarious and Kevin Harvey’s various caricatures of David Cameron and even Ozzy Osbourne kept the audience laughing. But there were some decidedly uncomfortable moments as the pair presented a situation of a married couple trying to persuade the man’s father to be euthanized to prevent further burden to themselves. We also witness a speech by a man arguing the case against further immigration into the country which starts off reasonable enough but just as the audience is reflecting on what he is saying, the speech morphs into the deranged ranting of a BNP member.

Although the boundless energy on stage from the actors demonstrates their enthusiasm and passion for being British, the trailer at the beginning and various moments throughout betray their uncertainty. Kevin with his future and Michael’s hope to get paid! To a degree, it appears that they are being spoon-fed by the director as to what to say and they are unsure of what they’re doing which emulates how society is being fed BS by politicians and we are all uncertain in these times. I (sadly?) am not ashamed to admit that, like many others in the audience, I didn’t even know the words to our national anthem. So how can we really justify our being proud Brits?

Ultimately, the evening produced many laughs and both the actors provided excellent performances, Kevin Harvey is a brilliant impressionist and Michael Ryan left the audience momentarily stunned with a particularly speedy tongue twister of a speech. All in all it was ‘proper boss la’.

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Comment left by Mike on 11th May, 2011 at 19:01
I watched this play on tour in Berwick about ten days ago. I can't fault Kevin and Michael's ability to deliver huge quantities of monologue, well, confidently with minimal chance to feed off the queues of other cast members. I wanted to revue this, as much as anything to congratulate the boys on their performances. The ten day delay, is because I wanted to try and get my head around what the writer had written for them, and what if any point he was trying to make. I've given up. If the writer had been as good as the actors, it would probably have been a better show.