Review: Oliver Reed: Wild Thing, Brewery Theatre

28 01 2013

It’s fitting that Oliver started its run at the Bristol Hippodrome this week as it was in the film version that Oliver Reed made his name playing Bill Sykes. It’s also fitting that the career of Michael Winner has also been in the spotlight following his recent death, as he directed some of Reed’s earliest work on the big screen. And of course, it’s fitting that for someone so associated with boozing, this biopic is being performed in a theatre called the Brewery.

If ever there was a life for a biopic to be made out of, it was the life of Reed, for who the term legendary hellraiser could have been invented.

Oliver Reed: Wild Thing is a one-man show, written by Mike Davis and Rob Crouch, and performed by Crouch, who bears a striking physical resemblance to Reed himself and can down a bottle of beer just as fast.

Reed’s life is recounted from his days in prep school to his final drinking session in a Maltese bar while he was filming Gladiator.

Crouch becomes Reed before our eyes in a brilliant performance, one minute wild-eyed and raging, the next quiet and contemplative.

Reed had it all, fame, success, money and of course, women. His descent is painful to watch as his drinking becomes out of control and the roles dry up.

A wasted talent. Certainly, in both senses of the word. But a one of a kind, and this production brings the legendary hellraiser vividly back to life.

Oliver Reed: Wild Thing

Oliver Reed: Wild Thing is at the Brewery Theatre until February 2. Click here for more information.


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