'The Consultant' review or 'One bad ass in a wheelchair'

'The Consultant', Neil Fleming
Theatre 503, Friday 25th March 2011
Written for Time Out

Hugo Shackleton needs help. He might be the Chief Executive of a Medical Imaging company but it is his father's business and innovations in Korea threaten its future. Desperate to turn things around, Hugo calls on infamous consultant, James Brown. James (Pip Donaghy) might be wheelchair bound but he has a track history of helping struggling companies find their feet. 


Donaghy plays crippled consultant James as a modern day Satan, slithering around on two wheels and spitting out his words like poisoned darts. His assistant, Nicola (Helen Millar), has an equally sinister sheen, eyes bulging as she scans for her next victim.

But, whilst Donaghy is amusingly vicious ('That's by boy! That's my bastard!'), he over performs. Director Geoff Church could've kept a tighter grip on his actors. As the play moves from light parody to something more emotionally complex, the consultants grow unconvincing and they're too thin to support Fleming's emotional conclusion.

The sharpest scenes are between down-trodden Hugo and his fiendishly clever wife, Claire (Sian Webber). Their encounters are more low key and closer to the bone. Fleming is a lively, pleasingly cynical writer – but it's only when he resists the comic bullseye that his writing hits home. 

Claire: she might wear floaty scarves but soft she aint


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