Review: Legend! (Decorum / Sydney Independent Theatre Company)

legend1Venue: Old Fitzroy Theatre (Woolloomooloo NSW), Jan 28 – Feb 15, 2014
Playwright: Pat Sheil
Director: Lex Marinos
Actor: John Derum
Image by Katy Green Loughrey

Theatre review
‘Slips’ Cordon is in his home, reminiscing. We don’t know why, or who it is he speaks to, but there is certainly no shortage of tall tales to share. Pat Sheil toys with our “European history” in his script, re-writing events involving our iconic war heroes, legendary sporting personalities, celebrated performers, and various significant political figures of times past. These revisions are amusing, and depending on your level of affinity with the “source material”, possibly even hilarious.

Cordon is played by the effortlessly charming John Derum, who carves out a character that is immediately endearing. This is an actor who revels in spinning yarns, and his enjoyment of the limelight is infectious. We are drawn in and are glad to be his captive audience. Derum is excellent at punchlines. Indeed, the show does at times, feel like a stand up comedy routine, where a comedian simply tells jokes, without much concern for context or character development. We do not learn very much about Cordon, but he does make us laugh.

This is a clever script that could work well in the form of a novella, but Derum’s interpretation adds a dimension of time and place that is strangely (and ironically) authentic, even though we are free to imagine where and when the action before our eyes actually takes place. Legend! is only mildly iconoclastic. In fact there is an air of reverence for these legends that hangs heavily over the production. Rest assured that our sacred cows are left unscathed.

5 Questions with John Derum

johnderumWhat is your favourite swear word?
Feck! – It took the Irish to come up with a swear more powerful in more combinations than the Anglo Saxons could imagine.

What are you wearing?
Out! There comes a time in longish lives that only just precedes the state of being “worn out”. It is the state of wearing out… fast!

What is love?
It is cruelly ironic that in the scorebook of this sporting life, love is what you get when you fail to score.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
You mean, all the way through?!!! Penelope was top draw! Always good to see a strong silent woman discombobulate ambitious men! They were all stars.

Is your new show going to be any good?
When an unreliable irascible know-all decides to tell-all and destroy the reputations of a nation’s heroes – be afraid, be very afraid. Some insensitive people will laugh uproariously throughout. More sensitive folk will groan and wince and wish they were watching someone more emotionally nurturing like Ricky Gervais, or Larry David. Legend! is an outrage. A disgrace. ‘Slips’ Cordon must be stopped!

John Derum stars in Legend!, from Sydney Independent Theatre Co’s 2014 season.
Show dates: 28 Jan – 15 Feb, 2014
Show venue: The Old Fitzroy Hotel