Review: Vampire Hospital Waiting Room, Above the Arts

“Do you want to know what Old Kent Road smells like?”

Beach Comet’s Edinburgh hit Vampire Hospital Waiting Room has transferred to the sweatbox Above the Arts Theatre for a short but sweet run and still has a bit of that festival mindset about it, not least in a starting time of 10pm. But Theo McCabe and Craig Methven’s comedy musical is worth extending your bedtime for and if you choose use the time before to take a glass or two, then all to the good.

Not that I’m advocating drinking before the show but rather that it is so gloriously daft, that lowered inhibitions can only help your enjoyment of the evening. Describing itself as a comedy B-musical, it’s an hour of low budget but high octane entertainment, loopy characters like the vampire-obsessed Dr Bloom and the comatose Artie, charmingly silly songs like ‘Let’s Put The Fun in Funeral’, and no end of cracking comic dialogue.

And that’s why Vampire Hospital Waiting Room works so well, because it has the rapid-fire energy of a comedy sketch show and condensed into an hour, McCabe’s direction keeps the action moving quickly and the jokes coming thick and fast. For what it’s worth, the plot follows Bloom’s attempts to locate the Vampire Lord and when car-crash victim Artie is brought into the hospital, his determination to see prophecy fulfilled has hilarious consequences for everyone in the waiting room.

There’s nothing subtle here and that’s kind of the point, the humour is broad and lewd (and still making the performers laugh as in one genius corpsing moment) and frequently laugh-out-loud funny. Joe McArdle sinks his teeth into Bloom’s ridiculousness with relish, Methven imbues his coma victim with much unexpected life and every utterance of Martin MacLennan’s Weegie is a cracker.

Musically, the score is proficient if not necessarily the most polished, but again the slightly ramshackle nature is perfectly suited to the matter at hand. The three women are all grand singers though – Roz Ford’s not-quite-grieving widow and Imogen Braband’s ditzy secretary Liz both impress and Abby Jackson’s Sexy Nurse riffs excellently whilst trying to grab a piece of the limelight.

Hugely amiable and a refreshing breath of fresh air, this is one waiting room you won’t mind getting stuck in, even if it does get hotter than hell in there.

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Beach Comet
Booking until 21st November, sightlines can be difficult so make sure to choose seat wisely

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