by Matt Hudson on 2nd August 2012 Billed as “a heart-warming tale of smack heads, pimps and psychotic medics”, I really wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about ‘Talk to Frank’. And, honestly, I still wasn’t quite sure until the very end – this is a play whose virtues and vices are in constant struggle. We follow a young man, Frankie, who “wakes up” in a coma. An alcoholic father, a weakling mother, drug dealers and an ex-prostitute girlfriend all punctuate the story, allowing us to learn more about his life before the coma, while a mad doctor and psychotic nurse keep Frankie in said coma as retribution for past wrongs. But mostly what we do is struggle with the ‘will-he-won’t-he-wake-up’ story, and wonder how many filthy jokes a writer can fit in an hour. (Apparently quite a lot…)Steven Barry’s script is witty and blokey; packing a punch with plenty of bodily functions. It feels young and unashamed; very rough around the edges but with an enthusiasm that’s hard to dislike. However, the problems it has with style, naturalistic dialogue and absurdist characters, often leave the director and the actors floating in a no-man’s land. Because of this performances can feel cheap, especially the manipulative and bizarre characters of Dr G Odd and Nurse D’Ville (puns intended, I’m sure…) played by Dave Dawkins and Katharine Blackshaw. Both gave committed and punchy performances, but the dialogue simply was not strong enough to carry them through a very odd set of circumstances. Coleman James’ Frankie was the stand-out performance as the anti-hero of the piece. A strong actor whose main problem was spending most of the play lying down, James seemed more comfortable with the text than his fellow cast members, striking a tough balance between humour and panic.I have to give credit to the team and the writer as, despite the problems with production and script, I was glad I saw this show. I liked the irreverent tone, and the couldn’t-care-less attitude and but they didn’t quite make up for the undeveloped and slapdash writing. If dark, smutty and blokey (often penis-related) humour is your thing then you will enjoy yourself. I did – but I’m still not entirely proud of the fact. Etcetera Theatre. 4.30pm 30 July - 3 August. Tickets хЃ9 The Blurb A heart-warming tale of smack-heads, pimps and psychotic medics by Steven Barry. Absurd dark comedy not for the faint of heart.