Dear Hunter Theatre’s debut show The Iconoclasts launched for a three-night run at Theatre Delicatessen, Sheffield on 24th November. Writer and director Ben Price has made a hilarious and touching ‘show-within-a-show’ that sees the audience join the Iconoclast family for a night of their comeback tour. The family of has-been entertainers look to have used up most of their 15 minutes of fame and are attempting to re-ignite their careers after featuring in BBC Three’s reality show You Can’t Choose Your Family.
The audience are sat cabaret style in the stripped-out innards of an old Woolworths greeted by a jamming funk band. One by one we are introduced to the Northern Irish family members: Danny Iconoclast, played by the hysterical Will Taylor, is a charismatic stand-up comedian who has the audience in stitches. The younger of the Iconoclast brothers delivers a brilliant Brexit-themed parody of Shania Twain’s Man! I Feel Like a Woman.
We meet his mother Patricia (Emma Pollitt), a 55-year old crooning cabaret singer, who laments messy and late ex-boyfriends who were “ok, but not great”, whilst poignantly longing for a time in her life in which she was 24, naïve and not confronted by the terrible death of her daughter Estelle.
Alex Cosgriff plays Alec Iconoclast, the elder of the two brothers, a slimy yet disillusioned and insecure magician who is struggling to live up to his grandfather’s legacy. Taking up the rear (just a taste of one of his many euphemisms) is the buttock clenchingly fabulous drag queen and father, John Iconoclast (Tom Williams).
The ever-present five-piece band perform music written by Emily Compton, whilst led by groovy frontman Thomas Fabian Parrish. They are almost an on-stage representation of the audience’s increasing sense of intrusion and awkwardness as the Iconoclast family dynamic, and with it their show, goes tits up.
The Iconoclast’s caricatures are worn down and we are left to mull over the sad tales behind each member of the Iconoclast family as feuds are laid bare and old wounds are opened. From laughing at this crude family of entertainers who wouldn’t be out of place on ITV4 at 2am, the audience are captured by the sad reality of characters dealing with betrayal, grief and frustration. And after all that, the built-up tension by is shattered by finishing the show on a brilliantly cynical note.
The show could do with shaving off 20 minutes or so and a little more purpose in parts. Each of the characters ‘sets’ are quite fragmented from one another. Overall, however, Ben Price has succeeded in creating a thoroughly entertaining and moving piece of new writing. Dear Hunter Theatre intend on taking the show to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017 and with a little nip and tuck, could be one to watch, because at the core is a sweet, poignant idea that is executed with humour and guile.