Every so often a comedy comes along that doesn’t have to try too hard, it’s just innately funny and heart-warming. Keith Stevenson’s Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Road, directed by Harry Burton is one of those rare treats, with a few magical moments hidden up its sleeve.
Set in West Virginia, country music plays as the audience takes their seats, the stage takes the form of a grubby motel room clad in wood panelling, and we immediately get the impression of trailer-trash. The characters confirm our suspicions.
Down on his luck Mitch, played by Robert Moloney, has walked ten miles to respond to an ad for a roommate, but he doesn’t realise that’ll involve sharing the tiny motel room and it’s two single beds with JD, a maintenance man come agony uncle.
Over the course of the evening he meets owner, Flip played by Michael Wade, who’s insanely racist and just a little bit creepy – never have the words ‘My Little Pony’ had such a reaction – and neighbours Marlene and Tommy. This mismatched group briefly, and bizarrely, find themselves in a hostage situation with hilarious consequences.
JD, played by writer Keith Stevenson, believes himself to be the son of Christ and has an obsession for Mountain Dew, Vodka and tuna-fish sandwiches which he doles out like medicine. Rough around the edges he’s basically a really nice guy, who just wants to help everyone. Stevenson definitely brings the role he’s written alive, it’s wonderful to be able to watch him take on a character he clearly loves.
As Marlene, Melanie Gray is superb, from her smeared make-up to screeching drawl she gets the role just right. Alex Ferns as Tommy just cannot help but make you smile, and laugh, a lot.
This has a lot going for it; a beautifully funny play which has been incredibly well written, in its short seventy minutes it goes a long way to restoring your faith in humanity and the real treat is just how endearing the characters are.
Out There On Fried Meat Ridge Road, has already been a huge hit in America, where it’s spawned two sequels; A Fried Meat Christmas and The Unfryable Meatness of Being, so all that’s left to say is how quickly can we get the whole trilogy on to a London stage?