Octopus Soup, Blackpool Grand Theatre
Not to put too fine a tentacle on it, Octopus Soup is a breath of fresh air. With a cast of five, six including Terry the Octopus, there’s never a dull moment and lots of laughs.

n the manner of a true British farce the plot is both daft and inspired. Where else would you see the victim of a burglary conduct a SWOT analysis for the perpetrator, before being roped into an insurance fraud plot under the watchful eyes of an octopus? 

Nick Hancock (Room 101, They Think It’s All Over) stars as sensible Seymour, an insurance consultant whose last-ditch attempt at salvaging his career is ruined by bungling burglar Marvin, played by Paul Bradley (EastEnders, Holby City).

Seymour’s actress wife Gloria (Carolyn Backhouse) over-acts perfectly as she makes a dramatic entrance, not to save her husband from the criminal’s clutches but to mistakenly welcome the intruder as a guest. Despite his best efforts, Seymour becomes an unwilling partner in crime with Marvin as they present a fraudulent pitch to GIT (Global Insurance Transmedia) boss Virginia (Gillian Bevan) based on Marvin’s dodgy ideas wrapped up in Seymour’s apparently genius algorithms.

A dinner party is held to seal the deal with Marvin’s boss, played Godfather-style by TV cop turned villain Eric Richard (The Bill’s Desk Sergeant Bob Cryer). Then just as it reaches murderous proportions, Terry, aided by a Le Creuset casserole pot, saves the day. Personal favourites included Gloria’s hysterical portrayal of a Geordie police inspector and Seymour and Marvin’s periodic wrestling.

All of the action takes place in the dining room, with conference calls between cast members and Virginia cleverly orchestrated via a TV screen attached to the back wall. This simple set is all that’s needed as the focus is firmly on fine acting, excellent comic timing and a fast-paced plot. The hilarity on press night was heightened by an unscripted slip-up involving safety-conscious Seymour’s two belts, always a welcome treat in a good old Brit comedy.

My SWOT analysis on Octopus Soup is as follows: 

Strengths: The splendid comic acting

Weaknesses: Terry didn’t take a bow

Opportunities: This would make an excellent sitcom

Threats: The algorithm scam could catch on

Hats off to the cast, Simon Fielder and Belgrade Theatre Coventry – for me this was reminiscent of the legendary sitcoms of the 70s.

Book to see it at the Blackpool Grand Theatre until Saturday 23rd February: www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk/event/octopus-soup

Further tour details here. www.simonfielder.com/octopus-soup