Char Brockes and Jack O'Neill (Ava Cardo) brought the Rialto Theatre to life with their unique styles of drag and slapstick comedy, in order to explore the theme of Romantic Comedy in a way that was not only fun, but thought provoking. Particularly in relations to how people are quick to judge couples who may not fit in with what we perceive to be 'normal'. Lionel (Brockes) is a loving, sweet honest man who would make any woman happy. Cindy (O'Neill) is an outspoken, fun loving woman who relishes life and enjoys it to the full. The trouble is, Lionel is so short and Cindy is extremely tall. Will this unusual pairing work in the normal world?
This is a show not to be missed
The strong storyline was told via voiceovers as if from the characters' perspectives as narrators, and combined with physical comedic theatre, music and cheeky innuendos that were reminiscent of the classic Carry On franchise and the famous partnership of Sid James and Barbara Windsor (only the sexes were reversed). All together, Lionel and Cindy was a show that not only was a showcase of the art of being a drag artist in a play context, but an experience that reminded us that love is universal and when taken for granted and not worked on, it can fall by the wayside. It had many poignant moments: sheer happiness when the couple are with each other, sadness when they lost someone close to them, a desire to be accepted in the world as a couple, and an emotional journey when an event involving a hit and run with a cow threatens to destroy their happiness.
Brockes and O'Neill are performers who are not afraid to challenge perceptions of relationships, or physicality through the clear dedication and hard work they put into this show. The small physical details involved with each placement of the hand, the looks into each others eyes and more, spoke more than the actual voiceover narration did at times to show how deeply in love Lionel and Cindy were. It would be interesting to see an alternative version where the non-speaking elements are explored more with no narration to see what happens to these two. At times that nonverbal communication touched on a raw emotional state that couldn't be put into words, which indicated every stage in their relationship so clearly that it was automatically engaging and easy to follow. Even the simple use of every day items, such a head of broccoli to indicate a wedding bouquet and toilet rolls to form a wedding dress were beautiful touches that added a certain charm to the piece that could also if they wanted to, be transferred easily to film as well as stage.
Lionel and Cindy is a show which will make you cry with laughter as well as sadness. Plus give you a deeper appreciation of love. This is a show not to be missed.