After graduating from RADA, Alan Rickman performed at the Royal Court Theatre and Edinburgh International Festival before moving on to television roles. He appeared in BBC adaptation The Barchester Chronicles as the Reverend Obadiah Slope.
Richard Marsh has clearly seen Die Hard more times than he’s had Christmas dinners. He’s here in his best Bruce Willis vest, brandishing a finger gun and a teddy bear, to retell the 1980s action flick in rhyme, from start to explosive finish. And why not splice it with the story of his marriage to a fellow Die Hard fan while he’s at it? But unlike Willis, Marsh won’t be barefoot: “Have you seen this floor?” he asks with a grimace.
Micro-budget fringe pastiches of Hollywood blockbusters are nothing new, but the one-man show format particularly fits a film whose isolated hero predominantly works alone. Marsh juxtaposes impressions of Willis’s terse, hard-bitten New York cop John McClane and Alan Rickman’s uber-baddie Hans Gruber (“the German who speaks like he went to Rada”) with episodes from his own humdrum life as a nerdy proofreader and knackered dad. In a neat twist, the worlds sometimes collide: Marsh nervously eyes his offspring as grenades liable to go off any minute, and after one violent encounter studiously dabs his vest with red paint as if cleaning up a stain in reverse.
Nakatomi Plaza, the opulent LA skyscraper where Gruber’s hostages include McClane’s wife Holly, is represented by a not-even-full box of After Eights and a watering can evokes its grandiose fountain. Marsh picks holes in the plot with a superfan’s affection, gets just enough mileage out of how the tech world of the 80s action heyday has dated, and rightly addresses Holly’s limited characterisation. An effective lighting design conjures gunfire with a surprising level of suspense – and one scene presents a bullet’s point of view.