"It's Oscar Wilde on acid, Downton Abbey only funnier," says Eric Idle of his stage comedy What About Dick?
Idle calls the production "a hybrid" and his full description backs that up. "It's got elements of a musical - we have songs. It's got elements of a play, but it's not a play that you have to take completely seriously because it's sort of a send up. It has bits of stand up and improv and these hilarious comedians are playing multiple roles and doing impersonations," the ex-Python says.
The cast drawn together to star in this difficult-to-pigeonhole project is impressive, including Eddie Izzard, Russell Brand, Tracey Ullman, Tim Curry, Jane Leeves, Sophie Winkleman and Billy Connolly, as well as Idle himself.
"This cast is unique," Idle adds. "You'll never see this cast together again doing something like this."
What About Dick? begins with the birth of a sex toy invented in Shagistan in 1898 by Deepak Obi Ben Kingsley (Izzard), retells the decline of the British Empire as seen through the eyes of a Piano (Idle), and follows the story of young Dick (Brand), his two cousins (Leeves and Winkleman) and their dipsomaniac Aunt (Ullman), who all live together in a large, rambling, Edwardian novel. Curry pops up as the Reverend Whoopsie, while Connolly plays the incomprehensible Scottish Inspector McGuffin.
Coming from Idle, there's naturally a distinctly Python feel to the script. "The audience loves hearing those Python rhythms and that Python language, but we're adding ourselves to it as well and going off in riffs of madness," reveals Ullman.
It sounds like the cast are having a lot of fun going off script. "These people are people that live for laughter! They're dangerous people to be around. They'll do anything!" adds Brand.
Still not convinced? "Everyone who watches this gets free glue for life," says Izzard, before qualifying that statement by adding: "If you buy enough glue, you should have enough for life."
What About Dick? costs $6 (£3.80) and is now available for download from the official website (www.whataboutdick.com).
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