On a remote glacier near Reykjavik, filming is taking place for the latest installment of the well-known (but perhaps less well-renowned) sci-fi movie franchise, ‘Vulcan’. Vulcan 7 is proud to feature the world-famous - but ultimately washed-out - Hugh Delavois and Gary Savage, but unfortunately a long and complicated relationship of (un)professional rivalry means the duo are less excited for their reunion: perhaps because the last time they were in the public eye together, Savage covered Delavois in custard in front of Alan Bennett. As Eyjafjallajökull begins to emit volcanic tremors and dislodge the icecap, the formidable duo become trapped in Delavois’ personal trailer, and it seems that set runner Leela will have more on her hands than her job description had entailed.
With a script written by comedic old-timers Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer, the premise certainly holds an assumed reputation that precedes it. As the show progressed, however, it became apparent that this potential is to remain unfulfilled. In the programme, Edmondson recalls that he and Planer had been looking to work together for a while, and that this production was borne through the rejection of yet another project that wasn’t ‘quite right’. It is regrettable, then, that what is ‘quite right’ falls on the wrong side of contemporary politics – choosing to mock the #MeToo movement and the radical idea that women in the film industry may exist as more than the sexualized objects of their male counterparts, not to mention the supposedly easy laugh in calling your rival ‘gay’. Though I’m sure the humour was intended to land in a post-ironic sense – to mock the fact that we are even having this conversation in the 21st century – it came across in poor taste and aided to undermine the integrity of the production.
Lois Chimimba has the difficult task of portraying Leela: a character who is charged with maintaining harmony and an actor who must single-handedly hold the entire production together. Her excellent characterization afforded Edmondson and Planer the wiggle room to wallow in the self-indulgence of their superfluous narrative; providing a large majority of plot points and humorous moments if indeed there were any.
Her performance is well-complemented by Simon Higlett’s charming set design, which takes the form of Delavois’ personal trailer on the film set. Mounted on some form of invisible, hydraulic piston system, it becomes increasingly tilted with every volcanic tremor and is dislodged to a frighteningly sharp angle – providing a most entertaining curtain call and I’m sure an unenviable number of risk assessments.
An unsatisfying production, Vulcan 7 is obnoxious in its comedic preference and undermined by a dry and inconsequential script: though the film may be futuristic, its stagecraft remains very much rooted in the past.
Vulcan 7 runs at the King's Theatre until Saturday 10th November 2018.