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Review: Octopus Soup

They Think It's All Over… but it's not for Nick Hancock as he makes his theatrical return in Octopus Soup – a crime comedy with a strangely familiar tale (minus the seafood).

Octopus Soup Windsor Theatre Royal 2 men and 1 woman drink wine with an octopus in a tank

Calamari with your wine ladies and gents? Paul Bradley, Nick Hancock, Carolyn Backman and Terry the Octopus.

Whatever happened to Nick Hancock? One minute you can’t channel surf without his face popping up on screen, the next (2005, to be exact), poof. He’s Gone. The punchline of his own show, They Think It’s All Over… (you fill in the blanks) and off he sloped to become a, er, mortgage broker. Fast forward to 2019 and Nicks’ dipping his toe into octopus infested showbiz waters as Seymour the insurance consultant in the new British theatrical comedy, Octopus Soup.

Written by Jack Milner and Mark Stevenson and produced by Simon Fielder, Octopus Soup sets itself in the right now – all techy home working with webcams, flat screen TVs and Power Point presentations. Throw in some clever word play and a moral message and, ta da, I present you with the modern British farce.

The show starts with Nick slipping out of his trousers and a pair of his boxers. No need to pass the smelling salts, there are no full frontals, The risk averse Seymour was wearing a multi pack. David Beckham has also been known to make use of spare briefs during his underwear modelling days, but that’s a different story.

Oh my ears! Carolyn Backman lets rip as ageing actress Gloria

Trousers back on and double belted, Seymour’s pitch preparation to G.I.T Insurance big wig Virginia (the brilliant Gillian Bevan – aka Theresa May in The Windsors) is interrupted by bungling burgler Marvin (Holby City‘s Paul Bradley). Following a SWOT analysis of Marvin’s poor criminal skills, Seymour is persuaded to hand over valuable personal data, while hiding behind a non-existent complex algorithm. Now where have we heard that idea before? Hmmm…

Anyhoo back to the plot. Virginia smells risk free mahoosive profits and a damehood and psycho mob boss Alan (The Bill‘s Sergeant Bob Cryer aka Eric Richard) is like the billionaire Bisto kid with £30billion of easy money up for grabs. Fat Cats get rich, the gangsters get rich and the little people pick up the tab.

It all comes to a head at the dinner party from hell when a Marvin’s nervy pet, Terry the Octopus, gets the willies when octopus soup is served as a starter (just for bants). All hell breaks loose, and so does the laughter.

How most Muddy dinner parties end,

The result of eating octopus soup

Where does Seymour’s neurotic actor wife Gloria (Carolyn Backhouse) fit into all this? Good question. Her childish shrieking slightly got on my nerves, but Gloria’s creative swearing as she struggles to mentally square her disappearing youth and unsuccessful husband, was entertaining. Eventually, a younger actress with bigger tits steals her thunder. Obvs. But Seymour’s line about one his wife’s meltdown – ‘oh no, she’s gone method’ – certainly tickled the audience.

Nick Hancock was impressive, but for me Paul Bradley stole the show as Marvin, the past his prime career crim. At times, the lines were a little hackneyed, but overall I enjoyed it. It’s a lighthearted, fun night out at the theatre.

Octopus Soup is on at Theatre Royal Windsor until Sat 6 Apr. Click here for tickets.

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