Presented by the Disability Arts Touring Network in association with DaDaFest, Susan Bennett caught Kiruna Stamell and Gareth Berliner's latest comedy show 'One of Us Will Die' at the Citadel in St. Helens on 7th February.
‘You have the most splendid piece of equipment!’ the doctor said, from under the sheet that hid his exploration of Stamell’s nether regions, reassuring her that she was indeed a real woman. As if we needed any reminding. For Stamell is all woman, and in 'One of Us WIll Die' comes across as very much larger than life.
She burst impatiently on to the stage, all 3ft 6” of her, a sparkling bomb in her glitzy black dress introducing herself with a terrific build up which left Berliner standing mumbling quietly to himself. Totally in charge she never let go once during the hour-long performance, dominating the stage by sheer force of personality, wit, delivery, confidence and a natural ability to draw in the audience.
Every star comedian needs a straight man and Berliner played the role to perfection: hesitating, looking confused, uncertain, allowing Stamell to step in with brilliant timing to feed him his lines: ’Go on tell them what you said about my legs…’ (Anyone remember Thora Hird and Cynthia?)
We were taken by storm as she commanded the audience to wave their hands in the air and barked instructions on how to pronounce her first name, Kiruna, by gesturing fascist fashion with clenched fists, all in the first five minutes.
There was no looking back as Stamell, the great actress, director and performer got into her stride. After a quick changed into a leopard skin top and pink knickers she belts out a show stopper under a sparkling glitter disco ball. The next she was a surly hoodlum miming a knife attack narrated by Berliner. Her virtuosity is breathtaking.
It can’t have been easy, gaining and keeping the attention of the audience against a series of curious incidents. First there was a fifteen minute unexplained delay before the show started; then a meandering five minutes managed by Stamell half off-stage with a microphone directing a silent unsure Berliner as if by remote control, move by move.
And it didn’t help when odd booming noises continually punctuated the duo’s dialogue. They did their best at first to ignore the sounds then included them in their act. Berliner laughingly suggested it was Tony, the very able BLS signer who worked so hard for the whole hour, then Stamell ad-libbed the next boom with a quip about a poltergeist…
There is no doubt Stamell is the star of this show. She was previously seen in Baz Lurhmann’s 'Moulin Rouge' and on TV in 'All the Small Things', 'Eastenders' (BBC), 'Cast-offs' (Channel 4), Ricky Gervais’s 'Life’s Too Short' and recently acting opposite Geoffrey Rush in Giueseppe Tournatorre's 'The Best Offer'.
Those who have seen previous shows of Berliner and Stamell will recognise some of the material but all will enjoy the exuberance and sheer vitality of a unique take on the opportunity love brings to life and the appreciation every couple should have of each other knowing that at some point: 'One of us will Die'.