Get Fit With Bruce Willis

The premise of Get Fit With Bruce Willis promises a fun-packed frivolous hour of disco, Jimmy Somerville songs, fitness and a Faustian pact with the devil but sadly fails to live up to expectations.

the finale sees the reunited couple don sparkly jackets and sing disco classics, which might be just what you’re looking for on a night out at the Fringe

Chris Brannick plays aging Jimmy Somerville impersonator, Mike Pringle, who has a voice that grates and struggles to reach the high notes - but that’s okay as he is obviously bad at his job, hence the devilish opportunity for exploitation. Unfortunately, he tends to sing rather a lot. The poster of a pudding-bellied Chris straining to fit into his skin-tight silver disco pants presents a strong comedic image but the reality of the three dimensional posing pouch is slightly off-putting. It’s almost as if there is another character onstage, whose presence is never referred to but begs to be taken notice of by constantly wobbling around in the audience’s periphery. At least it doesn’t change hats as often as Chris’s onstage companion.

Karen Kirkup (also the director) plays a boundless array of characters and puts plenty of energy into her roles, even if they all sound pretty similar. A bag full of inexplicable hats and increasingly strong Northern accents are the abiding factors that differentiate these roles. At least the Devil’s scenes are bathed in red lighting with a Carmina Burana soundtrack making her easy to identify. Kirkup twists her face into a grotesque mask and unaccountably shuffles around in a sunhat taking advantage of the lead’s sad situation by convincing him to sell his soul in return for fame and fortune. Many of Kirkup’s roles are superfluous to a plot that has more twists, turns and complications than the roundabout system in Hemel Hempstead.

If Pringle had simply strived to be better at his job, that would have been one thing, but he is suffering from a severe identity crisis as he tries to find another character that he could successfully impersonate. Enter Bruce Willis, or at least, Pringle’s weak attempt to get as fit as Bruce in a week in order to do something positive with his life.

At a couple of points in the play someone exclaims they have no idea what the other character is talking about and I have to agree. Has he sold his soul to regain the love of his sex-starved wife who seems intent on forging a relationship with a cardboard cutout of a Chippendale? Is it to have casual sex with a stoned hippy in a flowery hat or a to get into the knickers of someone else in a sun visor? Who knows and who cares? It’s certainly not to get rich and famous as he fails in both attempts. Maybe he should’ve stuck to Harry Hill impersonations then at least the singing would have stopped.

The script is made up of a series of bad jokes and comedy clichés, and the convoluted plot is unnecessarily confusing. Get Fit With Bruce Willis doesn’t seem to take itself seriously, making it difficult to care about the characters or the outcome of their predicaments. The finale sees the reunited couple don sparkly jackets and sing disco classics, which might be just what you’re looking for on a night out at the Fringe. Don’t forget to avert your eyes from the thrusting silver pouch and remember: it’s not the size of your caber, it’s how far you toss it. 

Reviews by Christine Kempell

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The Blurb

Disco flirts with 'Die Hard' in new comedy drama 'Get Fit With Bruce Willis' – or 'How Jimmy Somerville Saved My Life'. An ageing Jimmy Somerville impersonator sells his soul to the devil – in the shape of a Yorkshire granny – in return for fame, sex, and money. But his wife, tired of being ignored, is finding love and lust in the arms of a hunky office junior. Desperate for success, he gives himself a week to get fit like Bruce Willis. In the end he realises he has to stand up for himself – with the help of Jimmy Somerville and Doctor Seuss.

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