THE MIDNIGHT SNACK at the White Bear Theatre
“the energy with which Hartvigsen and Larsen throw into their ever-changing roles is a delight to watch”
Thankfully, for most of us, that whole period of lockdown is becoming a distant memory as life has resumed its normal, pre-pandemic routine. Occasionally we experience flashbacks, during which we might try and mitigate the whole experience by contemplating what good came out of it. It is interesting to look back to see how various people coped and it is heartening to catch glimpses of the positivity that can spring from adversity. As the months ticked by, a group of friends – with a desperate need to laugh – created a radio podcast devised and put together entirely on zoom. Picked up by Ealing Council it subsequently received a grant, was entered into the Summer Festival and eventually became a live, Offest Nominated theatre show at the Camden Fringe this summer.
That group of friends are the madcap, unconventional company “Other Mysteries”. The show is “The Midnight Snack” – an hour-long, whodunnit stage show that reveals its roots as a radio play throughout. There is no set, except for an assorted collection of costume and props used to create the many characters adopted by the three handed cast. Jonah Walsh is Harry, a wannabe crime reporter. In his head he is a Sam Spade character; hard and shifty, and able to get the better of anybody who crosses his path, whether criminal, suspect, victim, innocent or guilty. The reality is somewhat different as Harry spends his days in the darkness of his mother’s basement vicariously living his dream and trying to broadcast it via his podcast, continually interrupted by his meddling mother. Until, that is, a corpse turns up right before the day of the unnamed town’s annual baking competition.
Carolyn Hartvigsen and Mackenzie Larsen play every other character – all suspects under Harry’s over-zealous eye. A rival podcaster, the scatty chef of the eponymous ‘Midnight Snack’ food truck café, the police chief with his sidekick, the amnesiac, the femme fatale and love interest, the mysterious man spotted near the scene of the crime, the decoy the bartender and the mother. Among others. It’s a tall story and a tall order. And one that gets messy – but deliberately so, which is part of the attraction.
The comedy stems from parodying the exaggerated accents and rhythms of true crime dramas. However, that seems to be the one trick they have pulled out of the hat and even in just a short sixty-minute show the magic wears a bit thin. And the rule of three is all too often pushed beyond its limit. Nevertheless, the energy with which Hartvigsen and Larsen throw into their ever-changing roles is a delight to watch and sometimes leaves us as dumbfounded as Walsh’s hapless sleuth. In the end the mystery is solved for him (and us). No investigative skills are needed, but at the same time no real clues are offered. Which is just as well as we have long lost interest amidst the madness.
We may have lost interest in the ‘whodunnit’, but it is the performances, under Candice MacAllister’s slickly eccentric direction, that just about prevent us losing interest in the play itself. It’s perfect for the fringe and the next planned stop for this company is Edinburgh. Let’s hope they get there. The original podcast is still available online, and it will certainly put you in the mood during the journey up there.
Reviewed on 1st December 2022
by Jonathan Evans
Photography by Josselyn Ryder
Previously reviewed at this venue: