Kiss Me Honey, Honey
MISMATCHED men in search of new love have long been a fruitful source of comedy — look at Neil Simon’s classic The Odd Couple or any of a score of sitcoms from television’s earliest days up to the era of Peep Show and The Inbetweeners.
Philip Meeks’ new play, written with stars Andy Gray and Grant Stott in mind, takes the premise and updates it to the age of the internet and speed dating — much to the horror of naive Graham (Stott).
As in the best of comedies, Meeks’ script is not afraid to underpin the belly-laughs with some pathos. Though Gray’s flash-suited divorcee and Stott’s hopeless romantic, apparently made homeless by his mum’s death, seem at first stereotypes, Meeks’ words and the performances flesh them out to much more than the caricatures they initially appear.
As the family secrets are eventually revealed in the second half, Gray in particular lets the comic mask slip and is fully believable as a man who has been crushed by loss.
However, what the audience really go for and will remember most are the laughs. And there were plenty in this Eden Court performance evidently re-tooled for an Inverness audience with the speed-dating night from hell taking place in a pub called Johnny Foxes and the broadest of Highland accents for a randy minister who has replaced coffee mornings and bring and buy sales with something much more racy.
Having Gray and Stott play the women in Ross and Graham’s lives, from unlikely potential love interest to unsympathetic landlady, may save on money, but it also adds to the hilarity.
That pays off in a frenzied climax with Meeks, no doubt putting his experience in writing Agatha Christie centred one-woman show Murder, Marple and Me to use, sending up the typical whodunnit summing up scene as Gray frantically swops hats and wigs to explain a plot the audience were pretty much unaware was going on anyway.
With scenes like these, Kiss Me Honey, Honey is a bit of a showcase for one of Scotland’s most popular comic actors in Andy Gray.
Stott, in comparison, is more of a straight man to Gray’s impish and "young..........ish" salesman, but he handles the role well, especially as acting is not the Edinburgh DJ’s day job.
It is all set against a soundtrack of vintage Shirley Bassey, the one thing these two losers seem to have in common, and director Sam Kane even chucks in a little nod to the Bond films — as well as a final pay-off with a Bassey Bond theme.
Which one? Let’s just say it makes for a suitable ending to a little comic gem of a play.