Festival theatre review: I Shot Dirty Den

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UNDERBELLY (VENUE 61) Three Stars

AS GREGORY Mantel, actor Pavel Douglas shot Dirty Den in EastEnders – or, as he keeps reminding us, he arranged to have him shot (the job itself was actually carried out by Mantel's hitman – maybe he'll have a show next year).

In the wake of Den's recent return in the soap, Pavel joins us to ponder how Den's rise from the dead is possible and, if it is, what this says about Mantel's competence as his killer. This, in turn, cleverly leads into a saddening look at Pavel's acting work since playing Mantel, doing bit parts and voiceovers. If Mantel was undermined by EastEnders writers, Pavel has suffered at the hands of casting directors.

While this is the story of a struggling actor battling against the fickle world of fame, Pavel is a likeable host with an interesting past. His Polish upbringing was paired with an absent father and a fragmented childhood – something he has clearly found difficult to deal with. However, by the end of the piece we get a sense of a jobbing actor happy to live life in the periphery of the spotlight – a refreshing change in the world of theatrical egos.

Until 24 August. Tomorrow 3:15pm