There’s not much to be reviewed in Jane Livingstone and Jonathan Cairney’s Jocky Wilson Said. Not only is it a brief play, clocking in at a mere 45 minutes — it is also a one-man play, a one-set play, and a play which, at least for this American viewer, is completely incomprehensible. It saddens me that I understood only about 10% of the words said on the stage; as a play in which the only stage action is the moving of a man’s lips, this severely impacted by understanding of the work.
What I took away, plot-wise, from Jocky Wilson Said, is that there is a darts player heading to a tournament in Las Vegas who accidentally gambled away his money and is therefore forced to hitchhike (or walk) to Las Vegas in the scalding heat of the Nevada sun. He drinks frequently, ever the underdog darts champion, and has no problem befriending inanimate cacti. Thanks are due to the actor playing Jocky Wilson, for, though he spoke without the articulation or pacing expected in Broadway theatre, he played the part with the necessary sincerity and flaws to bring the character to life. It is from his gestures and use of a few props that I took away most of what I did in regard to the narrative — beyond this, only sound effects and a crude backdrop supplied any information to the Vanderbilt viewers in the audience. I would have preferred for there to be any imaginative staging, any creative movement or action on the stage, in order to make the show work in any way as a piece of theatre and not as a stand-up special. The thing is, even a stand-up special is usually consistently funny; this was more of a checkerboard in the laugh department, even for the audience who was able to understand what was being said.
That audience had good reason to laugh, though: for a mere £12, they got a meat pie, a pint of beer, and a ticket to a one-act show. Yes, the pies were tiny and cold; yes, the beer was stale; and yes, the play was as barely a play as a play can feasibly be. And also yes, the seating was cramped as all hell, as unpleasant as a seating arrangement can feasibly be. But for fifteen American dollars, we got what amounted to a meal and a show. Such a deal would be unheard of in an American context outside of a middle or high school play.
What I took away most importantly from this viewing experience was the potential for this format to be improved upon and developed in the professional American theatre scene. The house was cramped first and foremost because it was so full — a deal is a deal, and it should be financially sound to offer a similar one in the United States. With some more care put into the staging of the show (and, hopefully, into the quality of the food), we could have “A Nip, A Sip, and A Ticket.” Or something like that, I guess. In essence, we could incentivize the American theatre for audiences not otherwise wont to go to it by offering a whole show and a whole meal at a wholly great price.