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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Brighton 2011
Mervyn Stutter's Pick of the Fringe
Published on Friday, 24 June 2011


The Old Courtroom (venue website)
26-28 May, 10:00pm-11:45pm

 Suitable for age 15+ only.
 Warning: Contains strong language.
 World Premiere.

To readers of a certain age, Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks need no introduction.  For more than a decade around the turn of the 80’s, a run-to-seed bodybuilder and a giant in a shaggy coat regularly squared up on prime-time TV – grappling their way through a string of overtly-fixed wrestling bouts, which owed more to circus than to sport.  It was preposterous, even freakish, but millions of Brits lapped it up, tuning in eagerly to each instalment on the then-rampant ITV.

It sounds an improbable setting for a serious play – but so was Eurovision, the show which first brought scriptwriters Joseph Nixon and Brian Mitchell to our eye.  They’ve a talent for drawing both humour and drama out of the most bizarre of scenarios, and in their hands this definition of wrongness sounds so gloriously right.  There’ll be a good few belly-laughs, we’re sure, but there’ll be plenty to ponder too, as Argus Angel winner Ross Gurney-Randall and Radio 4’s David Mounfield somehow bring these two bruising behemoths back to the stage.

According to Nixon and Mitchell, Big Daddy Versus Giant Haystacks is more-or-less faithful to history – and the history is a fascinating one.  The ponderous combat in the ring was nothing compared to the power-play behind the scenes: expect big men, big egos, and the occasional big villain from ITV.  With supporting characters ranging from Sinatra to Thatcher, there should be nostalgia value too; and whatever happens, we know we’ll have ringside seats for this inspired homage to a bizarrely British sport.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2011.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.