Bookies favourite Worth A Flutter, brings together a stable of popular contenders to the starting gate: actor and reality TV star, Paul ‘Dangerous’ Danan, soap vet Adele Silva, glamourous filly Lucy Pinder and leading the pack, actor and creator Michael Head. Odds for success are 1/10. Under starter’s orders, they’re off! FALSE START! Adele Silva is out of the race, replaced by dark horse Clare McNamara. Frontrunner ‘Dangerous’ Danan is stripped of his lead title and forced to watch new contender Jack Harding take his position, making it now a 5-player race with odds of 20/1.
Despite the manic reshuffling that has obviously been taking place behind the scenes (McNamara and Harding were cast little over a week ago), the first half of the show gets off to a flying start and Worth A Flutter has the potential to be a wild and wacky piece of theatre. Set in a south London ‘caff’ the audience is introduced underdog Matt (Head), his shallow fiancée Paige (Pinder) and his best mate Paul (Danan), your typical cocky, self-obsessed bachelor. Enter smart and down to earth waitress Helen (the newly cast McNamara), to catch Matt’s eye. As Matt regales the audience with tales from his upbringing, the other actors merge farcically into the various characters of his memories; the sexist grandpa, the mum with low self-esteem and in a very funny scene, the personification of Matt’s penis (it’s Scottish, who knew)?!
McNamara is wonderful, ensuring Silva is never missed. Her performance is natural and understated and it’s hard to believe she wasn’t the first choice for the role. Pinder does a fine job for her stage debut, proving she can play more than just the vacuous, glamourous girlfriend and Head is perfectly cast as the endearing, working-class hero. Worth A Flutter has been billed as Danan’s ‘comeback,’ a chance for him to double-up and play a more grounded, gritty role, alongside the sleazy charmer type that’s come to be expected of him. In what seems like a spur of the moment decision, the former was stripped from him, leaving him the role that’s not too far from his own perceived public image. This choice meant that a new face was added to the mix, a factor that resulted in a confusing mass of characters on stage. Let’s be clear, this is not the fault of Jack Harding who’s great as Sam, a struggling dad, failing to cope with the death of his child. It just seems odd that he hasn’t appeared in any of the various cameos of the piece prior to now and suddenly the audience is expected to accept him as a new love interest for Helen, despite being lead to root for Matt from the start.
There’s no denying Head’s writing is hilarious and the sketch of the two jockey’s competing in ‘the worst things to say on a first date’ race is definitely a highlight of the night. Unfortunately the dramatic elements of the piece; stories of domestic violence, the breakdown of a marriage and living with BPD, never fully fuse with these comedic turns. Director Jonathon Carr manages the chaos as best as possible but when a piece ends on ‘not everything has an ending,’ it’s an extremely disappointing and underwhelming finale. Despite what was a cracking first race, Worth A Flutter proves lame at the finish line.