Andy Warhol once proclaimed that in the future everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes. The charming and silly satire, Fifteen Minutes, is essentially an extended riff on Warhol’s dictum. Set in a dystopian future, the celeb sceptic and intellectual, Marshall, undergoes reconstructive surgery in order to impersonate a recently deceased goddess of the silver screen. Otherwise, he risks sending the nation into an explosion of manic hysteria.
Unfortunately, hysterics were what was sorely missing from Fifteen Minutes. The jokes were there, they simply were not developed enough. In one scene, we have a dreamt up character in a dream sequence telling the dreamer that they are in a dream. He is a figment of the dreamer’s imagination and he will answer any bizarre request that the dreamer wants. Keep up with me now. It is an absurdly brilliant premise pregnant with comic possibilities, but it is hardly acted upon. After telling him once to do a lame jump, the gag is forgotten. A wasted opportunity which was unfortunately indicative of the whole show.
However some of the jokes did deliver thanks to the enjoyable and buoyant performances of the cast, in particular the zany energy of Carlos Sandin. His crazed surgeon and happy-go-lucky TV personality called Crappy deservedly got the biggest laughs of the show, but comic timing was an area where some of the other performers often missed the mark. Lines that sounded like they should be funny seemed rather flat. Situations that should have had the audience giggling in glee just seemed to drag. One notable exception to this was a funky dance number near the beginning of the show performed by fame obsessed onesie wearers, which is as giggle inducing as anything you’re ever likely to see. One only wished that such set pieces had been utilised more often.
The real frustration of the play however is that is just too silly to get beneath the skin of its subject. Whimsy and satire can work well together, but one felt with a more hard-edged comic tone, something with a bit more bite, the show could really have gone somewhere interesting.