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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Theatre - Vernon God Little - Young Vic

Star rating – 9/10

It is not very often that the stage version of a book is better than the original text, but that is definitely the case with the Young Vic’s revival of ‘Vernon God Little’. DBC Pierre’s Booker prize winning novel was good rather than stand out great for me, but in the theatre it is an outrageously funny dark comedy that had the audience splitting their sides with laughter throughout.

It is the story of Vernon, a high school kid from the heart of Texas, who unwittingly gets blamed as an accessory to murder when his friend massacres 16 of his classmates and their teacher in a Columbine style shooting, and then turns the gun in himself. Things go from bad to worse for poor Vernon, he gets blamed for all the ills in the county, and he runs away to Mexico to escape his troubles. I know it doesn’t sound ideal material for a musical comedy, but believe me it is fantastic, in a very black kind of way.

Directed by Rufus Norris, it is set to brilliant country music including the hits of Patsy Cline, Glen Campbell and Hank Williams. It features a stand out cast, including newcomer Joseph Drake as the unfortunate Vernon; Johnnie Fiori as Pam, his mother’s friend who always has a bucket of fried chicken at hand to ease his pain, and who has a pair of lungs to die for; and Peter De Jersey as the calculating Lally, who seeks to turn the misfortune of poor Vernon to his own advantage.

Ian MacNeil’s great set includes the most hilarious and innovative use of sofas ever seen on stage. The court room scene is hilarious. I can’t praise this production enough. If you are looking for a tonic for the winter blues – look no further.

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