After making a name for himself in England by writing TV shows like Blackadder
, Ben Elton wrote a novel called Popcorn
, satirizing ultra-violent movie directors such as Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino. Then Elton adapted Popcorn
for the stage. He's a funny guy, so Popcorn
is funny, but it isn't actually very good. Bill English plays a pompous, Oliver Stone-like director named Bruce Delametri, who wins an unexpected Oscar for some blazingly violent film only to find his Hollywood mansion invaded by a blood-spattered outlaw couple known as the "Mall Murderers." The Mall Murderers, Scout and Wayne, imitate Delametri's movie characters. The rest of the play is essentially a clever debate about free speech, responsibility, and America tarted up in a Natural Born Killers
style. Paul D'Addario gives an amusingly glowery, swaggering, over-the-top performance as Wayne -- consciously imitating Woody Harrelson -- and Elizabeth Phillips is sharp as Delametri's spoiled daughter, Velvet. But some of the performances, including English's as Delametri, are so astoundingly wooden they seem unrehearsed. "Oh great, now I got bitches in stereo," says the movie director, stealing (I think) a Tarantino line; instead, he sounds like somebody's uncle.