Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas @ Pleasance Courtyard

Review by Eric Karoulla | 14 Aug 2014
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas @ Pleasance Courtyard

Hunter S. Thompson’s semi-autobiographical novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is brought to life under Lou Stein’s direction. When journalist Raoul Duke is commissioned to take a trip to Las Vegas to cover the Mint 400 desert bike race, he and his lawyer – who uses the pseudonym Dr. Gonzo – take the $300 to rent a red convertible and buy as many drugs as they can take with them. This is the adventure told as Thompson recalls it.  

The inner monologue is intelligently brought to the stage through two voices – one being Hunter S Thompson, as portrayed by John Chancer, and the other being Raoul Duke, his character cum alter-ego. The story is made even more lively by Rob Crouch’s portrayal of Dr. Gonzo, the sex-obsessed, drug-abusing attorney.

While trying to convey what goes on in the book in an innovative and exciting way, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas works extremely well as a play. Some might say it would have to battle with the popularity of Terry Gilliam's Johnny Depp-starring film of the same name, as both are based on the same book, but the vividness and hilarity of the live show offers something the film cannot. It’s hard to pin down exactly what this is, but the skill of the actors and the magic of the set – for example, the car that turns into a bed – easily outmatch the cinematic version. Visuals from Ralph Steadman – whose illustrations appeared in the book too – also supplement and enhance the atmosphere.

As Thompson says: “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Pleasance Courtyard,
Until 25 Aug, 4.30p.m.,
various prices