I’ll be honest: I was not expecting much from Possessed. The last few Lano & Woodley shows had left me a little cold – it felt almost as though they’d recognised that they were funniest off-the-cuff and so had designed their shows to screw up as much as possible – and the basic premise of “a one-man romantic comedy with Frank Woodley playing a nebbish shut-in and the ghost of a long-dead Irish Rose” sounded a little bit, well, shit.
How wrong I was. I’d reckoned without Woodley’s considerable charm – he’s a very, very likeable performer – and had underestimated his acting chops by a wide margin. Also, having gone in expecting something a little more plot-driven, I was surprised just how laugh out loud funny it was, from the opening montage of falling down stairs (hell, there’s no way that a L&W spin-off wasn’t going to have a good amount of slapstick). But the writing is tight and the gags strong – and his performance as Louie’s blues-singer dad was a definite highlight (and I damn near died at the couplet “You’re like an inoperable brain tumour/I can’t get you out of my head”).
Yes, things screwed up; and yes, the loudest laughs of the night were when Woodley addressed the audience to explain some technical snafu or other – but if this is the beginning of a new dawn for Frank Woodley’s comic career, we’re in for some sweet times.