"Bold, brash, funny psychedelic trip"
by Ed Barrett for remotegoat on 18/10/18

As the name might suggest, this is a play that doesn’t just break the fourth wall, but reduces it to rubble, then crushes the rubble to pixie-dust, taking in time travel, altered perceptions, and the quest for knowledge both of the human mind and the human soul, before somehow magically rebuilding the wall. A magical collaboration between writer Leo Butler, director Paul Hunter, the cast, and the crew who together constitute Told by an Idiot.

Jack Hunter is mesmeric and mercurial, displaying a fine sense of both the comic and the absurd in multiples roles, including not only Timothy Leary and a version of Jack Hunter – or rather, the playwright quite openly using Jack Hunter as his mouthpiece; whilst George Potts brings a wonderful playfulness to his catalogue of characters, with his recurring turn as neuropsychopharmacologist Professor David Nutt having a presence that somehow reminded me of Johnny Ball; and, amongst many other brilliant moments, the way he manages to portray four famous fellows simultaneously is absolutely fab.

Similarly, Sophie Mercell slips easily from role to role, and is often involved in conveying the tougher elements of the play, helping to both ground it in reality and at the same time elevate it beyond the trippy, almost-adult-panto vibe that works so perfectly elsewhere.

Annie Fitzmaurice’s presence as the playwright’s alter ego brings a nice seam of continuity to the madness, with a warmth, wit and humour which makes him / her very easy to identify with. The journey Annie portrays also serves as a spine sturdy enough to hold everything else together; though, for me, it would have done the piece no harm if we felt just a little more lost from time to time.

When a playwright puts themselves not only on stage, but at the centre of the action, there’s always a danger that you’ll end up with a passive protagonist; the playwright is after all often an observer rather than the driver of the action. Whilst this piece is never really in danger of falling into that trap, it still feels to me as if the production needs something more from the version of Leo Butler presented here. Not that I’m suggesting anything is lacking in the acting; rather, this feels like a specific decision, perhaps a decision to have a relatively calm centre to the storm that whirls around it. If so, it nearly, nearly, nearly works, but in the end left me wanting just a little bit more from that quarter.

But overall, this is a bold, brash, funny, and often scintillating production of a brilliant piece of writing, from a playwright very much in control of his form. Not merely a trip down the rabbit hole, All You Need is LSD is a play with a fully-fledged sense of its own identity, coupled with a hugely infectious sense of humour, seasoned with a fine sense of the absurd, and leavened with a healthy sense of cold, hard reality. As such, it’s well worth ninety minutes of anyone’s time.

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