Review: Die, Mommie, Die @ Manchester Pride Fringe

By Amy Senior, Entertainment Correspondent

Murder and adultery were rife at Manchester’s Sachas Hotel this week as Die, Mommie, Die returned to the city with a performance to die for.

Following its original success at Taurus Bar, Vertigo has once again brought Charles Busch’s tongue-in-cheek cult film back to life for two days only.  Dale Vicker ignites the stage as Angela Arden, the remaining sister of an Arden sister double act after her twin, Barbara, killed herself at the peak of their career. 

Each of Angela’s ventures have since flopped and as she attempts to claw back her career she finds herself in the unhappiest of marriages with her husband Sol Sussman.   Sol is the typical 50s Jewish studio producer also trying to resuscitate his once successful career while trying to avoid both the communist black list and a Mafia loan shark. 

Completing the dysfunctional family portrait is Edith, a daddy’s girl verging on incestuous, and Lance, a psychotic, gay mummy’s boy.  Two other regulars in the Arden household are Bootsie the maid, who is also obsessed with Sol, and Tony Parker, the neighbourhood lothario with a big reputation. 

When Sol discovers Angela’s affair with Tony, he vows to entrap her in their dead-end marriage forever forcing Angela into a desperate and successful plot to kill him with a poisoned suppository.   With Sol out of the way and Bootsy running into a curious demise Angela can finally move on, or can she?  The jaded performer is set up by her two offspring as they spike their mother with LSD and hear confessions more scandalous than they ever bargained for.

The play breeches the realms of believability from the first minute but, just like the original, it was never meant to be a credible plot.  Director Craig Hepworth brilliantly captures the spirit in which it was intended with excellent casting, clean performances and a sharp mockery of the early American film noirs .

Die, Mommie, Die offers no down time, no pensive moments, just a reel of dark but hilarious wit broken intermittently with climatic freeze frames associated with the corny old murder mysteries repeated on Alibi every weekend.

Each of the supporting cast play out their Hollywood caricatures perfectly as the audience laugh at each comically disturbing moment played out before them.  But the star of the show, and not just for obvious reasons, is Vicker as Angela Arden.  The sublimely ridiculous is achieved as he creates a character that can only be best described as a cross between a pantomime dame and a femme fatale.

Vertigo have only blessed us with two performances of Die, Mommy, Die exclusively for Pride Fringe in a bid to help the whole festival hit that £1m mark.  They do, however, have another play in the making called Christmas Sorority Massacre ready to hit the floor of Taurus bar at Christmas.  Perhaps with enough demand, the formidable Angela Arden may return to the city once more.

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