New Diorama Theatre
Reviewed – 11th June 2018
“Performances across the whole company are strong, full of confidence and always working in sync”
Founded by Helen Potter and Carissa Wagner, Potter and Wagner theatre company seek to explore social issues in a ‘very British’ style of comedy. Their latest show, Bitter, seeks to encompass a smorgasbord of topics. These range from the relatable, unhappy relationships and graduate frustration, to the surreal, and a very possible murder. Playing at the New Diorama Theatre, and with distinct style, it is unfortunate that we are short changed by a script that threatens to topple the play.
We follow Wendy, Melissa and Mavis, old school friends reunited after graduation. Each of them has a problem, one trapped with a difficult partner, one afraid of what others will make of her sexuality, and one negotiating single life whilst living with an … interesting flatmate, Brian. They will deal with these through a series of sharing meetings, enjoying some ‘hot-cross fun’ by speaking when passed a bun. Their stories are brought to life on stage, building towards an event that they will be forced to overcome together.
The first thing to really praise is the way in which the piece is constructed. Two microphones, each linked to a loop pedal combine with the cast’s fine voices to effectively conjure each location and create enjoyable montages. Performances across the whole company are strong, full of confidence and always working in sync. It is a shame that the piece itself does not have the same level of focus.
The issues with the show come from none of the problems feeling intrinsic. As someone details one memory, it feels interchangeable, as though they could swap for any issue and it wouldn’t matter. While sometimes enjoyable, the sharing conversations do not advance the story, all loose, meandering and retrospective while nothing is moving forward. This is part of a narrative that becomes ludicrous, headed towards a twist that falls flat, coming with a hard to take plot hole. With some focus there is strong material, but it can read as though ideas are being thrown in, prodding at themes while not exploring with any depth.
But even with these, this is still a pleasant hour to watch. Nicely paced and nicely played, it is clear that Potter and Wagner have a bright future. While this isn’t entirely successful, there is more than enough for an audience to hold onto, and worth seeing to hear a gloriously groan worthy gag about a popular dating app.
Reviewed by Callum McCartney
Photography courtesy Potter & Wagner
New Diorama Theatre
Previously reviewed at this venue