The Public Reviews Rating:
Toby Williams’ dark creation, the highly distasteful George Ryegold, returns to the Fringe in God in a Bag, this time with an expanded cast including: Red Dwarf’s Hattie Hayridge, Fresh Meat’s Dan Mersh and fellow comedians Lindsay Sharman and Milo McCabe. The self-obsessed, penny-pinching, fabulously under-achieving doctor has been suspended yet again and has to deal with a fractious love life, time on his hands, a potentially earth-shattering new theory and competition from a smarmy but successful colleague who has nicked his research.
Billed as a comedy play, it’s more like an extended TV sitcom episode or over-long radio show. There are some moments of comedy gold here, especially when Ryegold delivers a highly inappropriate sex-education lecture to a room full of school kids, but over the hour the laughs aren’t sustained.
The supporting characters do the best with the material they have, and all are accomplished actors, but none are as well conceived as the charmless doctor. This is illustrated in the under-use of fine character comedy performer McCabe, he has limited material here and to his credit still manages to shine, but he’s a talent that could have been exploited. T.V. veteran Hayridge plays a torpid cafe owner but basically regurgitates her usual laconic on-screen persona.
God in a Bag proves there’s good reason why sitcom episodes are under 30 minutes. The writing is at times highly intelligent and cleverly witty but there’s not enough material to hold the attention for an hour and the central character is just too unpleasant for us to root for him. A skilled cast and material that has glimmers of potential – just not in this format.