A New Play by MIKE DAVIS and ROB CROUCH
Performed by ROB CROUCH
Directed by KATE BANNISTER
The Guardian (2016) 'the shows we recommend'
"The one-person show about a celebrity is the stuff of the Edinburgh fringe but Rob Crouch’s account of the life of hell-raiser Reed – star of Women in Love, Oliver! and many far more forgettable British movies – is genuinely intelligent and thoughtful as it considers the pitfalls of fame and the dangers of falling for your own myth. Crouch is just phenomenal as Reed, a swaggering, fist-swinging mess of a man trapped in the crowd-pleasing image of his own making and so doomed to endlessly repeat himself."Lyn Gardner
"[Oliver Reed: Wild Thing] captures not just the history of the man but more importantly, his very spirit. It's factual, fun and superbly entertaining - an insight into Oliver Reed."Mark Reed (son)
"Rob Crouch delivers a tour de force performance in a play that is a perfect introduction to Oliver Reed for the beginner and a glorious celebration for Ollie devotees." Robert Sellers - Author of 'Hellraisers' and 'What Fresh Lunacy is This?'
"This is Oliver Reed: larger than life, hugely entertaining and almost always on the lash. ‘Wild Thing’ is a drink-sozzled beast of a one-man show. It’s as exhilarating as a huge night out, with just the hint of a bitter aftertaste.
Oliver Reed was one of a kind: a brute of a British gentleman, a belligerent intellect and a superb actor who loathed the pantomime of celebrity. He’s a tough act to follow – but Rob Crouch embodies Reed’s contradictions brilliantly. Above all, Crouch is charming as hell. He also doesn’t shy away from the ugly stuff; there’s the occasional fiery outburst and alcohol-fuelled meltdown."
"This furiously funny, feisty and sad homage to the roistering film star – imagined in Reed’s final hours before he collapsed in a pub while filming Gladiator in Malta – is a swaggering tour de force from writer/performer Rob Crouch, which premiered at Edinburgh last year.
"Crouch conjures up Reed’s burly, macho presence, voice and spirit, conveying impossible charm, a sense of fun and danger that make the devilish decline into ugly belligerence and appalling, exploitative chat show appearances the more affecting. It’s exciting, touching and quite riveting. "
The Good Review starstarstarstarstar
“Kate Bannister has done a great job of direction and Stage Design ... I found Rob Crouch to be mesmerising – much as I imagine Oliver Reed to be – charismatic and entertaining but to those who knew him, often infuriating and impossible to live with. As an actor Crouch laid himself bare; his beer belly hanging over his trousers in a dull white vest, hair unbrushed, sweaty and unshaven; yet the scar from being bottled in the face still clearly visible [with] a look in his eye where you were never quite sure what he was going to do next ... He was particularly impressive as the hour of Reed’s death drew nearer as a darker, drunker, more morose figure appeared – the darker side of the life and soul of the party: An often unnerving and uncomfortable watch.” Claire Snape
Public Review starstarstarstarstar
“‘Oliver Reed: Wild Thing’ is a real tour-de-force which builds and builds into a drunken raging whirlwind, and the standing ovation for Rob Crouch was certainly deserved.”
Louder Than War
“We realise that we’re not just the audience; we’re Ollie’s friends in the pub with him, enjoying his 70-minute monologue as his mind wanders drunkenly through his life. As Reed, Rob Crouch drinks throughout, cracking the caps off beer bottles and downing them with relish. His stunning portrayal is bombastic, defensive, honest and unafraid to show the more pathetic aspects of the life of a drunk...Crouch is alone on stage, success or failure rests squarely on his broad shoulders. It is a fitting mirror to Reed’s own self-rebellion and outsider instincts.” Adam Webbow
Liverpool Sound & Vision starstarstarstarstar
“There is a moment during the performance where the lights go down just that little shade further and from the side of the darkened stage Oliver Reed is transformed into Sykes from the film Oliver, as he shouts outs his dog’s name, it is the moment of capture, the wild one, the dark enticing prince of British acting that stands on stage regaling the spellbound audience with tales of the past ... Between Rob Crouch and Mike Davies, this is a touching, insightful and knockabout tribute to the legend that was Oliver Reed. Astounding!” Ian D. Hall
The Bristol Post 9/10
“Rob Crouch, who stars as Reed, is ... magnificent, not only nailing his look and mannerisms, but crucially capturing the qualities that made Reed so fascinating. It’s a performance that Oliver Reed would’ve been proud to give.”
Public Review starstarstarstarstar
“Crouch’s performance is so convincing it is almost possible to forget that this is not Reed himself. His energy and capacity for eliciting the best from his audience are superb and at Reed’s final moments the desire to cling to him and beg him not to leave us again is almost unbearable. Truly outstanding.”
British Theatre Guide starstarstarstarstar
"Beginning with a swagger and a clout, there is barely a moment in 'Oliver Reed: Wild Thing' when the charged presence of Reed isn't practically beaming out from within Rob Crouch and his boisterously eloquent portrayal of the man... When Crouch asked the audience if we are not entertained, there really was only one answer; the rapturous applause that met him as he took his bows. A fine and fitting tribute to a larger than life figure, brilliantly realised, skilfully written and touchingly performed. " Graeme Strachan
Edinburgh Evening News starstarstarstar
"This gregarious tribute to Oliver Reed's life is everything a biopic should be... Rob Crouch not only resembles, sounds, scares and excites as Oliver Reed. He's so convincing you feel like sharing a whisky with him afterwards in a bid to get even closer to the man who treated the pub as his theatre... "Awe and respect are two different things," Reed once said. At this pub, you'll find both." Barry Gordon
"A good title works wonders... 'Oliver Reed: Wild Thing' has a simple and succinct name that promises excitement, drama and celebrity gossip. And it delivers. Mike Davis and Rob Crouch's exhilarating monologue races through the chief highlights of Oliver Reed's career... Rob Crouch, a charismatic performer, shows us Ollie as a schoolboy, a movie idol and a grizzled, elderly drunk. He reveals his warmth, his volatility, and something else as well: the sheer village-idiot strangeness of the man. Reed had a marvellous knack as a phrase-maker and the script honours this talent to the full." Lloyd Evans
"It's all great fun — as, one imagines, Reed was himself (when not recovering from what must have been appalling hangovers). Crouch's... Reed is uncanny... But there's also a poignant seam of self-awareness running throughout. Reed believes that he became the hard-living caricature of himself because that's what the public expected him to be. In today's bullying, Heat-magazine celebrity culture, that's never rung more true." Laura Barnett
"...one hell of a performance from Rob Crouch, who enters wearing a gorilla suit and then manages to take things up a notch. The show celebrates Reed's lust for life (sometimes in all its rampant ugliness), but it also suggests the tragedy of the man. In playing the role of hellraiser so consummately, Reed knew he had made a spectacle of himself from which there was no escape." Lyn Gardner
The Quotidian Times starstarstarstar
"...an amazingly well scripted show – by Mike Davis with assistance from Crouch... Crouch's performance is a tour de force. He captures perfectly the clipped enunciation and diction of actors of that particular era and somehow appears to be getting drunker and drunker - to great dramatic and comedic effect - as the production unfolds... Hellraising until the end, this show captures the pathos of a great man who lived his life exactly as he wanted to."
The List starstarstarstar
"Rob Crouch paints a blazing theatrical portrait of the renowned boozer... In this excellent one-man show, the renowned hellraiser recounts his wayward life from beyond the grave and, appropriately, during the course of a mammoth boozing session. Rob Crouch does a superb job of playing the British film star of the 1960 and 70s, nailing Reed's mannered English accent and idiosyncratic intonation, his insolent attitude, mischievous stare and macho swagger. It's an enormously entertaining, frequently hilarious performance that switches to sombre and serious as Crouch's Reed becomes fully inebriated and the recollections of the man who swore he'd drink himself to death reach the end of his life..." Miles Fielder
"Oliver Reed sits in a pub and, in a manner which manages to bridge the gap between thespian raconteur and the Ancient Mariner, fixes the audience with a glittering eye and proceeds to recount his life story. With extraordinary frequency he pauses to down a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, a large whisky, another beer... Not least admirable about Rob Crouch's performance as Reed is his bladder capacity. He is also superb at capturing Reed in all his fallibility, vulnerability and rabble-rousing monumentalism... It is the type of theatre that catches you out. Reed enters in a Gorilla suit – you laugh, it is a reference to his Wild Thing. He regales you with anecdotes and you laugh. In the grandiloquent tones of a great actor he says things of such staggering egotism – you laugh again. But gradually you realise that all this grandeur, all this solipsistic insistence on being the "last of the shit-kickers" is a terrible defiant bravado; an attempt to prove to himself and anyone else that might be listening that although it became a tragic spectator sport, his life—like that of an ancient Roman gladiator—was still glorious." Miranda Kiek
Broadway Baby starstarstarstar
"The problem with one-person shows from an audience point of view is that, if you don't like what's going on, you know that no one else is going to come along and perk things up. There are no such worries with this rendition of hell-raising actor Oliver Reed; performer Rob Crouch manages to bring several characters to life as they impact on, or are affected by, the man himself... Crouch makes a convincing Reed physically and vocally, and his impersonations of others (Michael Winner, Ridley Scott, and Russell Crowe, amongst others) are also terrific... In this show from beyond the grave Reed seems to be saying, rightly, that we wanted the shocking stories and the punch ups and appalling behaviour. That's what we want from all our celebrities deep down, from Reed to George Best to Alex Higgins to Amy Winehouse. As Crouch asks, arms outstretched and looking threateningly into the audience, Maximus Decimus Meridius-like: 'Are you not entertained?' We were." Robin T. Barton
Three Weeks starstarstarstar
"...a very charismatic performance, and whilst it's hard to relate to someone so completely off the rails, it's impossible not to be fascinated by tales of his excess. That fascination is what the play explores, and Reed tells stories of his early ambitions, his break into the big time, his debauched lifestyle and his later notoriety as a sort of proto-Charlie Sheen. He's mad, bad and dangerous to watch, and Crouch is utterly convincing." Roz Tuplin
TV Bomb starstarstarstar
"Crouch, apart from a striking likeness to Reed, has charisma on tap – and Reed was nothing if not charismatic. He also has the remarkable ability to interact with the audience without losing any characterisation. But it is the grace of the delicate moments that makes the play great viewing, never just an impersonation of a drunken brawler, which it easily could have been." Rory Edginton
What's On Stage
"This ode to actor Oliver Reed... features an outstanding performance from Rob Crouch at its centre... in this affectionate portrait they... remind us that the man who viewed his own life as a mere "series of pubs" had many more dimensions than most of today's cookie-cutter movie stars can offer." Theo Bosanquet
Gay Times Blog
"Oliver Reed is my all time crush... Rob Crouch's performance is uncanny, Reed's famed clipped speech and imposing physicality alive on stage. Guided through the actor's life and work, what makes the piece refreshing is an extended focus on Reed beyond his sensationalised boozy image... 'Oliver Reed: Wild Thing' provides an insightful and charming depiction of Britain's favourite brute."
The Middle Peg
"This one man comedy is a gripping and humorous, but far from light-hearted, biography of the on-screen and in-pub exploits of the late 'Mr England', Oliver Reed... A captivating portrayal of Reed brings the story of his successes and scandals back to life. It's a true testament to his performance and the script that younger viewers such as myself are able to relate to stories of people they may never of heard of."
"Rob brought to life every facet of Reed; his pathos, his legendary boozing... his blustering, his bravado, his tenderness and his kindness, and most of all, this consummate actor's raw humanity! I have seen many one man shows in my time, but Rob Crouch's portrayal of Oliver Reed was one o' the most visceral, blistering performances I have ever witnessed in a theatre! It will stay in my mind for a long time!"Rab Wilson, poet, Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival