John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Spartacus) and Joanna Lumley (Ab Fab), star in Tea Shop Asylum, a romantic black comedy based on the remarkable true life experiences of Yugoslavian actor Rad Lazar (Breaking and Entering, Munich). This extremely funny script tells the story of Vlad, ex soldier and asylum seeker from the Balkans, who is awaiting a new start with his family when his past catches up with him and leads to an escalating struggle to contain a bizarre and chaotic chain of events.
Co-written by director David Skynner and Rad Lazar, the project has been supported by the UK Film Council Premiere Fund.
This short taster is derived from the the longer pilot and gives a sense of the humour of the film. The pilot was shot over three days in and around Hastings.
Based on real life experience, Tea Shop Asylum tells the story of Vlad, a lugubrious ex-soldier and asylum seeker from the Balkans who is awaiting a new start in life when his past catches up with him, leading to an increasingly bizarre and chaotic chain of events.
He and his brother and father pass tedious days in a sleepy English seaside town as they await naturalisation. It would seem obvious that, to speed this process, Vlad should keep his head down, avoid trouble and do nothing to draw attention to himself. But then he got that call…
Admittedly the call concerned a serious matter of honour, but even so it’s reasonable to conclude that it was ill advised of him to then take the illegal job in the psychiatric hospital where he met Dorothy, the therapist, even if he then fell in love with her.
Given this blossoming relationship, it was sheer madness to then agree to kill her patient, the depressed professor and multiple failed suicide, Trevor. Blowing up the seagulls was a blunder, no matter how irritating they were, and any fool knows that an American Bison doesn’t make a good lawnmower.
The mock execution to blackmail Baz, the builder, into smuggling Vlad’s dead grandfather back to Bosnia, economy class, was another unforced lapse of good sense.
But the greatest gaffe of all was building the two-ton statue of Pontius Pilate out of dental amalgam, in order to win a modest prize and finance a debt of honour with the greatest pastry chef in Eastern Europe.
He should have known better than to do any of these things. He risked being pitched back into the nightmare he’d only recently escaped. But the life force is strong, the need to love is irresistible, and the requirement to find a place and acceptance in the world is overwhelming.