views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Morphine Margarita
The Hen and Chickens
9th August 2015


Publicity image for Morphine Margarita

Photography provided by Ohh Mamma

There are lots of things I have to do right now. Most of them won't take long; I just can't bring myself to get started. Jasper Valentine and David Hayler are in a different league to me though. They've spent four months trying so hard not to write a show that they've accidentally actually written a show about not writing a show. At first, you think you're about to watch some kind of horrific lime green car crash, however this is a sneaky attempt to wrong-foot us. Quickly we realise an extraordinary amount of effort has gone into putting together Morphine Margarita and it's surprisingly quite good.

Haylor broke this thumb earlier this year, which is about as pleasant as it sounds, and resulted in him legitimately taking a lot of very strong drugs. I know this, because Morphine Margarita uses a lot of video footage and shows us the story of how Haylor came to be lying on a hospital bed off his head, all in the style of internet legend Joel Veitch. If you imagine Veitch back in the glory days with no money, trying to do a live show with a mate of his and getting his mum to do his tech, well, you're nearly there. If you walk out of this show after 60 minutes not feeling like you've been on drugs yourself and unable to describe what just happened in a coherent way, you were probably at a different venue. Haylor and Valentine are brilliantly bonkers together, with emphasis on the bonkers.

The duo promise us film, music, theatre, comedy and dance and to be fair, they do provide all of this. Probably would have been easier to write the show and then apply to be part of the Camden Fringe, but having hedged their bets at an early stage, they have no choice but to give us the full works. There's probably a clause in that paperwork that they probably haven't read, stating that if any show fails to live up to its genre, that famous Camden pigeon will swoop in and peck like mad. And as we all know, angry birds can be a major time drain. More hassle than it's worth.

My favourite sketch is probably the multimedia parody of Game of Thrones, filmed partially in IKEA. The boys almost seamlessly cross from fooling around on stage in the flat pack paradise to crawling around on the floor in front of us and keeping up the ridiculousness. IKEA has always been the stuff of myth and legend, but seeing Valentine and Haylor pose dramatically draped in bath mats and other reasonably priced Scandinavian household goods, you can't help want to do a meatball dash for yourself. I think there's some subliminal advertising going on.

The gratuitous use of pugs is fairly shameless, however if Veitch got away with so many animated cats, it's probably only fair that Jasper and Haylor get to sneak in so many dog shots. No pugs were harmed in the making of this show, however if any of them ever see it, they may well quite rightly feel a little disturbed. I think I still am from those tumblers.

Morphine Margarita is a wonderfully barmy show which falls into that guilty category of "I shouldn't like it, but I do." The boys may still argue it's technically theatre; it's really a mix of everything they could be bothered doing, packaged together as cheaply yet as slickly as possible. Anyone who's ever thought about staging a fringe show should come watch this - whether it's as a lesson in what to do or what not to do, I haven't quite decided - and anyone who fancies something a bit out there this Camden Fringe should come along too. Possibly the weirdest cocktail you've had in your life, but it doesn't half hit the spot.

Morphine Margarita opened on 9th August and runs on 17th August and 23rd August 2015 at the Hen and Chickens, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Highbury & Islington (Overground, Victoria)

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