Picture a cast of actors, reading from scripts on a stage — dressed in vintage gowns and dapper suits, some are settled into plush velvet chairs, while others stand in pairs, emoting earnestly in front of oversized chrome microphones. A narrator, all British charm, nudges in between brief musical numbers and bursts of smart, anthropological humor that trusts the audience to catch up with its mile-a-minute wit. Sound like something straight out of an old-fashioned radio play? Now, add some of the most brilliant comic minds in the world, throw in a heaping dose of satire, and you’ve got Eric Idle’s latest project, an 80-minute experimental play titled What About Dick?
Writer and performer Idle — known for his work on Monty Python, and for co-creating the musical comedy Spamalot — translates the classic feel of a radio serial to the screen with this show, originally a live production that’s been recorded and released online directly through Idle’s own site. This past April, the comic treated Los Angeles audiences to an absurd live show starring some of the UK’s (and the world’s) brightest comic minds; the former Rutle shared the stage with Russell Brand, Billy Connolly, Tim Curry, Eric Idle, Eddie Izzard, Jane Leeves, Jim Piddock, Tracey Ullman, and Sophie Winkleman for Dick’s four night run, each show uniquely different from the next thanks to improvised additions and unexpected riffs.
Dick has literally everything, from an all-star cast to a completely indescribable plot that’s been summed up by Idle himself in strings of comparisons including “Oscar Wilde on acid,” “Downton Abbey, only funnier,” and “an Emotion Picture for Radio.” The script is full of meandering metaphors and veiled meanings, rife with staples of British humor like bawdy innuendo, politely biting political commentary, and a heaping dose of absurdity — the whole thing’s narrated by a piano, for example. While the finer points of the play’s class humor might be lost on those with less than a working knowledge of the noble hierarchy, the script is peppered with cross-cultural, au courant political jabs (like a dismissive reference to Sarah Palin, or slanging “taking a Donald Trump” for “taking a dump”) and pop culture critiques (RE. the Kardashians: “Is that some kind of disease?” “Yes.”) READ MORE