Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer, former Young Ones stars, talk about their new comedy Vulcan 7, coming to the King's Theatre 5-10 November.
David: So, what’s the show all about?
Ade: It’s a show about two grumpy old actors stuck in a caravan, making a Marvel-type film for a big franchise. They’re on a glacier in Iceland and they haven’t seen each other since they were at drama school - there’s a lot of history, a lot of bitterness.
D: So it’s fairly autobiographical then?
A: Well, me and Nigel are quite old…
D: As well as psychopathic punk Vivian and jellybrained hippy Neil on The Young Ones, your creative history together has also taken in The Comic Strip Presents and Filthy, Rich and Catflap during the 1980s, as well as the spoof heavy metal band Bad News with Rik Mayall and Peter Richardson. Have you been looking for a theatre project for a while to work on together?
Nigel: We looked through play after play and I seem to remember drinking rather a lot on the day we decided to just write something ourselves. People say ‘why don’t you do a Young Ones reunion?’ or whatever, but those things look a bit sad, I think. We wanted to do something new.
D: Vulcan 7 sees Planer’s minor actor Delavois finally land some recognition, while Edmondson’s former Hollywood A-lister Savage is reduced to playing a Thermidon, a large headed alien lobster creature. First time as a lobster Ade?
A: Yes. That makes the pathos funny, I hope. If someone’s delivering heartfelt lines dressed as a lobster it kind of pricks the bubble, doesn’t it? My character’s on a downward trajectory which is almost vertical and he’s not helping himself, while Nigel’s career is slowly going up. This film is the moment they pass.
D: Do you think you still bounce off each other well as performers and writers?
N: There’s a certain amount of personal involvement in the characters, and of course we know each other very well, so we can target each other’s flaws quite excruciatingly. Having said that, I worry that people who’ve seen Bottom might think it’s going to be a big obscene explosion... These characters are quite sad as well as being witty and funny. We’re grown-ups now, it’s not slapstick.”
D: It does sound like you’ve brought a lot of your own experience to the script?
A: Ultimately it’s about measuring yourself against people who know who you are. You know when you’re young and you have people around you, like brothers and sisters, and no matter what sort of world you go off into they can still measure you fairly accurately? That’s what we’re exploring. It’s not about us in particular, but we both know that everyone secretly does this, so we thought it would be fun to bring it out in the open. In the end, I want audiences to laugh and to go home thinking about what it takes to be a human being. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
Interview by David Pollock