Jack Milner and Mark Stevenson form the writing duo who have brought us this new comedy performed by an accomplished cast led by Nick Hancock from ‘They think it’s all over’ and ‘Room 101’.

The action opens with Nick as Seymour, an Insurance consultant preparing for a presentation. Before any words are spoken, we get our first laugh from seeing him express his anxiety and cautious nature by removing not one, but two belts, his trousers and several pairs of boxer shorts before slipping his clothes into a trouser press.

His careful plans are thrown into disarray when Marvin, a bungling burglar breaks into his flat. Paul Bradley as Marvin gets some of the best lines in the piece. Playwrights have used the age-old strategy of ushering words of wisdom from the mouths of fools since before Shakespeare. It works to amusing effect in this play too. Marvin spies a picture of Cleopatra on the wall. When Seymour explains that it’s a promotional poster featuring his actress wife, Gloria, Marvin comments “You did well there, you’re a bit Slough Town to her Arsenal”.

He raises even more laughs with his malapropisms. When he explains that his pet, Terry, is an Octopus, he claims “They’re inebriates, they have no spine”

The play has a promising crew of characters including the highly-strung Gloria played with convincing histrionics by Carolyn Backhouse. Gloria naively trusts Marvin and reprimands Seymour for his lack of empathy towards him. Pre-occupied with fretting about her career, she prevents Seymour from explaining what Marvin is really doing in their flat.

Virginia is the hard-headed C.E.O of the large Insurance company Seymour was trying to pitch to. When she and Alan, Marvin’s Machiavellian Underworld boss, are brought together on the stage, we anticipate fireworks. Unfortunately, the script, the plot and the acting don’t spark enough to make the most of this situation.

There’s plenty of scope for humour in this sitcom, however, despite several funny lines, it doesn’t fulfil its potential. The plot loses its way at times and becomes a little tangled, lacking the psychological reality that would tickle the audience. There are strands of different comic techniques from slapstick to verbal sparring but the framework of the story isn’t strong enough to weave them into a cohesive whole.

Octopus Soup is lightly entertaining and makes an interesting starter for writers who will hopefully serve a more satisfying play in due course.

Photo Credit: Robert Day