REVIEW: Osric Omand and the Story of Hope ★★★★ (Drayton Arms Theatre)

Well – what was that?! Last night I saw the closing night of Osric Omand and the Story of Hope and I am none the wiser. Billed as a ‘horror-action-comedy’ it certainly delivered all three elements, although the comedy was the pervading influence throughout the whole piece. In fact, it was the funniest thing I have seen in London since BoJo was left dangling on a zip-wire over Victoria Park! 21st Century Cox, the team behind this show, should be pretty impressed with themselves as it’s not often this critic wakes up with an aching chuckle-box.

Joseph Emms inhabits the character of Osric, a slightly mysterious chap who runs ‘The Institute’, with help from his gay former-Nazi caretaker, Hans (Mathew Miles). The Institute is home to monsters, zombies and amongst others, honourable members of the Vampircal Order. Osric has a vision and dream for the future – that monsters and humans can co-exist and live side-by-side in harmony. However, all may not be plain-sailing as the play opens with an action sequence showcasing the cast’s impressive comedy-stage-combat skills.

Osric is everything a leading man should be; handsome, debonair, able to play electric guitar convincingly and in love with a woman sewn together from multiple corpses. Ably assisted by Hans (who isn’t shy about showing his long-standing affecting for his master), the ex-Nazi has opened a recycled-corn business (don’t ask – no seriously, don’t) in addition to performing his other duties at The Institute, which largely consist of grappling Osric’s bare legs.

Following numerous combat scenes (set to an awesome soundtrack), cheesy rip-offs, and a dance sequence involving transsexual robots, Osric’s arch-enemy appears on the scene (played by Oliver Swinton). A vampire of some years standing with an exceptional level of stage-scooter-riding ability (a skill not yet on the RADA syllabus), he kidnaps Hope (Elizabeth Back), the love-interest of Osric, who eventually is released into the human world and found working in a Tesco Metro in Mile End. Emma Beth Jones as Annie, the Vampire Bounty Hunter, is also crowbarred into the loose, occasionally gaping, and hole-ridden plot, helping to deliver some of the ensemble’s rousing musical numbers.

In conclusion; the cast tackled this interesting hour of entertainment superbly. If you ever wanted to know what Rocky Horror mashed with The Play That Goes Wrong mashed with defecated sweetcorn tasted like, you should have gone to see this cheeky, irreverent and utterly pointless show. With no real agenda, no social commentary and an apparent budget of £3.75, this show won’t be picking up any prestigious gongs, but it will live with me forever – or at least until the therapy starts working.

Reviewed by Lee Knight


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