In The Popcorn Seller, one of Oscar-winning director Bruce Delamitri's famously lurid movies, something unusual happens. The popcorn seller lives to tell his gory tale. Nobody shoots him. This ostensibly trivial detail is to constitute a major plank in Bruce's desperate defence, as he draws on all his reserves of street-wise shrewdness, overblown imagination and celebrity status to save his household from the psychotic intentions of two unexpected and unwelcome guests.
In his depiction of the manically materialistic lifestyles, the random shootings, the foul-mouthed exchanges, the cocaine snorting, the casual sexual encounters of tabloid Hollywood, Ben Elton is the poacher-turned-gamekeeper, lashing out at just about every conceivable excess that he sees emanating from its seductive celluloid images of sex and death. Wayne and Scout are, in their own words, two poor, white-trash, trailer park nobodies. They are the classic fodder of Stringer and Oprah, gagging to be famous for five minutes, high on the violence of Delamitri's creative world and now acting it out for real. They are the notorious Mall Murderers, whose ultimate act of bravado is to go out in a blaze of blood and glory in their hero's hideously opulent Beverly Hills mansion. This recast touring version of Elton's multi-award winning play, is a rather quieter version of its premiere production in Nottingham, Leeds and the West End. Paul Brennen and Clara Salaman play the two young killers more for comedy than for danger, their partnership needing an injection of the palpable sexual charge they get from their indiscriminate bloodletting. Still, there is plenty of energy crackling through the performances of Sasha Pick (standing in splendidly for Emma Noble) as Playboy starlet Brooke Daniels, Liza Sadovy as Farrah, Bruce's grasping, face-lifted, estranged wife and John Bowler, whose portrayal of Bruce as a tough-talking maverick-turned mealy-mouthed establishment figure is as slick and clever as the play itself.
Runs until Saturday. Bookings and performance details from the Ticket Shop on 01232 241919.