Hen & Chickens Theatre
Reviewed – 25th February 2019
“any shortfall of originality is certainly made up for in sheer energy”
As we enter the auditorium, we are given a slip of paper: a brief curriculum vitae that summarises the ‘what not to write’ section of a Personal Statement guide book. It is a neat, cost-cutting alternative to offering a half-hearted cast list in lieu of a programme, and its off-beat, self-deprecating content sets the tone for what is to follow. “Not Quite” explores the pitfalls, faux-pas, trials and tribulations of two young women on their off-kilter, self-destructive quest to navigate the dreaded job interview.
It is a brave enterprise for, much like their characters, they are up against stiff competition. They have chosen a comedy situation well examined over the years by masters of the craft from Tony Hancock through to Ricky Gervais. But Cassie Symes and Georgina Thomas, who have written and perform this fast-paced show, certainly give it their all; and any shortfall of originality is certainly made up for in sheer energy.
The pair have a catchy camaraderie and chemistry that keeps the dialogue flowing as they briskly alternate between interviewer and interviewee. The current is strong enough not to get bogged down by the occasional predictability of the puns. Where it does run aground, though, is during some bizarre moments of physicality that don’t fit comfortably into the narrative. And there is often a self-consciousness that seeps through their armour of madcap comedy. But billed as a ‘work in progress preview’, in preparation for its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, they can be forgiven. But I did long for a little more self-belief, especially with the huge encouragement they were receiving from this particular audience who seemed to be lapping it up. It would be interesting to see how the material stands up when thrown into the lion’s den of the Fringe, faced with a room full of strangers rather than friends.
But there is no denying the talents of Symes and Thomas. They are both top-notch character actors as they hotfoot through their cringe-making blunders and bloopers. Sometimes though, like their characters intent on making a good impression, they are guilty of trying too hard, which unsettles us. But when they relax, they certainly pass the test.
As a show fit for its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe, “Not Quite” is not quite ready. But I am more than confident it will be.
Reviewed by Jonathan Evans
Hen & Chickens Theatre
Previously reviewed at this venue: