Jingle All The DLA, Zoom Theatre review, December 25th, 2020
By Conor O’Neill
Dundonald born writer Stephen G. Large’s 2020’s Christmas outing is 33 odd minutes of a Zoom call between Davy ‘The Venezuelan’ Taylor and his sidekick John ‘Horse’ McCracken. Many will remember the pair from last year’s sell-out run at the Grand Opera House’s Baby Grand in Dog DLA Afternoon.
With theatre doors firmly shut, a Zoom call is a perfect and unsettling familiar setting for the Corona inspired piece of writing. Kicking off with a punk-fuelled rendition of Jingle All The Way, actors Matthew Forsythe and Matthew McElhinney are soon getting the laughs in as Horse struggles with his Zoom audio settings, much to Davy’s annoyance. Add to that a somewhat dubious background of Horse’s choosing, his lovable daftness and one liners from the off and the half hour flies by. Quite like ‘The Venezuelan’ whose head dips below the camera’s eye as he pops down and up every other frantic minute after ‘powdering’ his nose.
The plot is simple, both are waiting on a result. Davy’s caused by trying to prove Corona Virus is a Bill Gates instigated hoax by licking a toilet seat in Belfast’s Benedicts night spot; well, he should know, he’s been doing his ‘research’ on that peer reviewed fountain of unquestionable knowledge, YouTube. Horse’s result is of a more emotionally charged matter and as the link is still on the Dundonald Liberation Army’s Facebook page, I’ll not spoil your enjoyment. If you’re watch this while nursing a hangover in the morning. It’ll give you belly laughs as the sweat the pishes out of you. Not only is there gags a plenty but about midway through there’s a little touching scene that show a deeper side to Horse McCracken.
As to be expected the writing is crisp with a gag a minute. With no props or scene changes a possibility, costume is key. Sporting his trademark Ron Jeremy handlebar moustache, gold laden Davy’s attire in nothing more than a Japanese kimono dressing gown open to the navel, complete with the ubiquitous dragon motif coupled with a pair of bulging Hawaiian print Y-fronts, while the Horse is in the festive mood with tinsel round his neck and red trim around his milk-bottle glasses, quite reminiscent of Trailer Park Boys’ character Bubbles.
The conversation starts with the ‘Rona’ conspiracy theory chat as Horse states: “You’re worried about a vaccine, sure you bought four Es from a stranger in Shine a few years ago.” Davy’s quips: “He wasn’t a stranger, I met him in the line outside.” Gags like this pepper the two’s chat as one males the snowballs for the other to throw a moment later.
Christianity and Christmas get blasted by Davy as he gets more wired on his pepsin. Add to that two weeks of worry, plus his ‘lady’ friend Crystal hasn’t been seen since his self-imposed isolation and Davy’s frantic mood swings are more than understandable.
Gender fluidity; sperm donation; was Jesus just a forerunner to David Blane who simply fed a leper a fish supper which through hundreds of years of Chinese whispers turned into the miracle of the feeding of the 5000; hand-me-downs; cars arriving at a party across the street, which to Davy looks like ‘Charles Hurst’s Showroom’; the abject fear of turning a tout and many more little skits will give you plenty to laugh about.
Yet it’s not completely perfect, a few of the lines can be seen coming a mile off, but it’s McElhinney as ‘The Venezuelan’ and Forsythe as ‘Horse’ that save and savour such moments though their sheer comedic chemistry. They may not be in the same room, but throughout the 33 minutes running time the viewer does feel a bit voyeuristic watching this cracking little Christmas gem.
Thankfully, Large does bring this feisty little comedy tale to a somewhat heart-warming conclusion, though be prepared for some twists along the way.
It’s as close to we’ll get to seeing real theatre this Christmas.
For more details visit the Dundonald Liberation Army’s Facebook page.