I finished my review of Keith Stevenson's Out There On Fried Meat Ridge Rd when it was on in January, at the White Bear, by saying I hoped it got a transfer so more people could see it. Hey presto, here it is at Trafalgar Studios 2 for another run, so is it as good as I remember? Well the answer is a big fat yes.
It's set in a grubby motel room - "trip advisor classes it as other" - where Mountain Dew and vodka drinking JD (Keith Stevenson) lives. He does odd jobs for the lascivious, string-vest wearing, red-neck motel owner Flip (Michael Wade) and acts as consoler to fiery, crack head artist Marlene (Melanie Gray) when her wasted poet boyfriend Tommy (Alex Ferns - the only cast change) is being unfaithful.
Into this walks Mitch (Robert Moloney) a hyperhidrosis sufferer who's lost his job in the local spork factory, been dumped by his girlfriend and had his car burned out by local reform school girls. He's answered JD's ad for a room to rent - or at least that is what he thinks is on offer.
The scene is set for a madcap 70 minutes but this is an exceptional piece not just for the very funny one-liners but the clever way Stevenson surprises and wrong-foots. His characters are wonderfully drawn so as to surprise, scare and amuse over the course of a line of dialogue. When you've finished laughing you are left with warm fuzzy glow and a wish to spend more time with them, perhaps.
Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Rd manages to be silly and poignant but essentially is a hugely entertaining play about being nice to each other. At the end, JD says: "There shouldn't be a name for the right way to treat people, it should be normal." And he is right.
It's getting five stars from me, again, and you can see it at the Trafalgar Studios 2* until June 3.
* The Trafalgar Studios 2 has been rearranged so that the seating is raked so that it faces the performance space on one side, not wrapped around three sides as it normally is (the same set up as the White Bear if you saw the play there).