There are many people who try to put on plays that are unique and quirky, and who simply end up with a production of blunder and ostentation. However, Heads Bodies Legs by Ezra Elia takes all of this mess and ridiculousness, and subconsciously exclaims “Look I’m great” – without being pretentious.
Heads Bodies Legs is a bizarre comedy thriller set in a creepy private hospital, where if you do not pay your medical bills, they take a rather drastic measure to collect your debts: taking your soul. Through a whirl-wind of an hour and 20 minutes we watch Jon Price go on a determined hunt to get his soul back from this unusual hospital, with many twists and turns on the way making you feel tense and hysterical.
At first this play came across as a bad attempt at being sinister with acting that should be for a terribly patronising children’s show, with a man in a hospital bed with no reason other than that for us to think he was ill, along with annoying questions to a clichéd bitter-sweet nurse.
This show does not build on characters enough and at the end we are still left wondering about the mysteries of some, as the story begins to build and then leave us with a thread of irritable wonder. However, the acting of these one-dimensional, absolutely loony characters was done in the best way it could have been, as the sheer outrageous comedy could have easily been delivered in an embarrassingly uncomfortable way. In fact, they seemed to take this possibility of it being both, grasping that idea and serving it up to us in a way that we could not help but laugh with delight. We saw this from Clare Buckingham, playing the character of Louise who had also lost her soul. She had a fantastic ability to give across the behaviour of someone without a soul, keeping the audience laughing continuously throughout these scenes. Eleanor Jones, who played the nurse, created a character so sinister in every way that without her the play would have been simply slapstick and crazy. Without a doubt she was the main reason you would describe Heads Bodies Legs as sinister.
The story line needs more depth and explanation. This play could have the potential to be a complete disaster, but it has been directed with such intelligence that most of it offers a reason to leave with a big smile on your face.
Heads Bodies Legs played at the Camden People’s Theatre. For more information and tickets see The Camden People’s Theatre website.