Theatre Review: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Gynecologic Oncology Unit At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Of New York City

Finborough Theatre ★★★★☆

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Theatre Review: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Gynecologic Oncology Unit At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Of New York City Finborough Theatre 4
Photo by James O Jenkins

In a painfully realistic two-bed hospital room divided by a curtain, a blue collar New York stand-up comedian — played by Radio 4's Cariad Lloyd — riffs some material about having been single so long she's having sex dreams about her vibrator. Or wet dreams. Except women don't have them. Overheard by the son of the adjacent patient, she starts an antagonistic rant at the unseen and outraged eavesdropper.

If the first rule of comedy is 'timing' (and they do that joke, too) the second rule is that any stage encounter that starts with mutual antagonism must end up in bed. The third rule of American comedy is that however gallows the humour, however dark the plotting, there must be some sort of happy ending. This is an extremely good piece, but its failure to be even more edgy and dangerous lies in the fact you can spot both these facets coming quite early in the proceedings.

Still worth seeing, though. Lloyd is very good but it's Rob Crouch who has the much more difficult dramatic arc — first required to be an unlikeable slob, transiting through awkward romantic to full-on philanthropic hero could be jerky and uncomfortable. However, he's perfect in this role and has the best moments of pathos and comedy, including one of the most watchable — but simultaneously unwatchable — sex scenes in a disabled toilet.

Sit on the left hand side of the audience for full accessibility.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City, Finborough Theatre, SW10 9ED, £16-£18. Until 27 October [Tuesday-Saturday]

Last Updated 08 October 2018