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The Independent Culture
THE re-opening of Terry Johnson's Dead Funny in September was more an encore than a revival. A national tour and a change of cast apart, it has deservedly been a West End fixture (at the Vaudeville, and now the Savoy) since the end of its initial sell-out run at Hampstead Theatre in April 1994. Following the Donmar's recent revival of his 1982 play Insignificance (in which Marilyn Monroe explains relativity to Albert Einstein in a hotel bedroom), and with the imminent West End opening of Hysteria (1993) - which imagines the equally surreal meeting of Freud and Dali - Johnson, the 1994 Lloyds' Playwright of the Year, must be beside himself with mirth.

Dead Funny is set during the week in 1992 when both Benny Hill and Frankie Howerd died. Richard, president of the Dead Comics Society, arranges a wake to mark the catastrophe: fancy dress and pie throwing are obligatory, sexual impropriety an optional extra. It's classic farce, tightly constructed and uproarious. But Johnson deftly subverts its artifice to reveal a barrenness in all the characters' lives which smutty jokes and old Morecambe and Wise routines cannot alleviate. This new production and cast (which includes Belinda Lang, above, from TV's 2Point4Children, as Richard's spurned wife, Ellie) have been universally praised, confirming the play's status as a modern comedy classic.

IoS readers can buy two top-price seats for only pounds 20 (normally pounds 20 each). The offer runs until 23 December and applies to Monday to Thursday evening performances (8pm), Wednesday (2.30pm) and Saturday matinees (5pm). For tickets call the Savoy Theatre box-office on 0171 836 8888 mentioning this offer.