Tag Archives: Ethan Doyle

I Wanna Be Yours

★★★

Bush Theatre

I Wanna Be Yours

I Wanna Be Yours

Bush Theatre

Reviewed – 6th December 2019

★★★

 

“a script filled with warmth and humour that’s not afraid to tackle complex issues with nuance and maturity”

 

Spend more than a few minutes on Twitter and you’ll no doubt be confronted by a bevy of hot takes on attitudes to race in current society. And while they raise a number of crucial questions and issues, they can often feel intangible. Thankfully, Zia Ahmed’s I Wanna Be Yours is here to cut through the social media academia and let the ideas play themselves out in a fundamentally human and earnest way.

I Wanna Be Yours follows a blossoming romance between struggling actor Ella (Emily Stott) and struggling poet Haseeb (Ragevan Vasan), and the wider societal and cultural hurdles that they have to overcome in trying to make it work as an inter-racial couple. Events such as meeting your partner’s family for the first time that are already nerve-wracking take on a whole other level as Ella faces rejection from Haseeb’s aunt on account of being white and Haseeb has to stomach the entrenched racism in Ella’s family that has gone previously unchecked. However, these instances are largely not treated with the heaviness that is frequently seen when this subject matter is depicted – Ahmed is smartly selective in when to intensify the gravity and when to revel in the absurdity of other moments, such as Ella’s frantic Google search as to whether the black face paint used in Mummers’ Plays had racist origins or not. The result is a script filled with warmth and humour that’s not afraid to tackle complex issues with nuance and maturity.

Ahmed’s script also introduces a few surreal elements into the story, particularly one featuring a very literal elephant in the room, but they unfortunately feel half-baked and not fully committed to, culminating in an ending that tries to tie these elements together but consequently doesn’t feel as meaningful as it could have. The pacing also suffers from the themes and ideas not feeling like they’re being especially expanded upon in the second half of the play, and certain conflicts feel a little forced. However, one element which almost consistently endears is the relationship between Ella and Haseeb.

Both Stott and Vasan display a masterful characterisation of the text, fleshing out texture and colour in every line. Under the kinetic direction of Anna Himali Howard, their dynamism fully inhabited the space, which was bare save for an inexplicable carpet that looked like it had been stolen from the home of someone’s gran. Out-of-place carpets aside, the chemistry between the two was able to strike the difficult balance between them clearly exuding their love for each other without excluding the audience.

This is in part due to that Stott and Vasan were not so much a couple as a throuple, being joined throughout the play by Rachael Merry as an integrated BSL interpreter, who frequently enhanced the language and characterisation in the way her interpretation also served to physicalise the subtext and bring further layers to the experience. I Wanna Be Yours has many beautiful, cheeky, and hard-hitting moments, and it is undeniably exemplary in its accessibility, but the sum of its parts struggles to fully engage.

 

Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by The Other Richard

 


I Wanna Be Yours

Bush Theatre until 18th January

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Class | ★★★★ | May 2019
Strange Fruit | ★★★★ | June 2019
Rust | ★★★★ | July 2019
The Arrival | ★★★★ | November 2019

 

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Sh!t-Faced Showtime: A Pissedmas Carol

★★★★★

Leicester Square Theatre

A Pissedmas Carol

Sh!t-Faced Showtime: A Pissedmas Carol

Leicester Square Theatre

Reviewed – 28th November 2019

★★★★★

 

“bountiful instances of quick-witted, gleeful silliness”

 

Audiences are a voyeuristic bunch – from found-footage horror films to The Play That Goes Wrong, there is a proven appetite for watching things where what’s being shown feels like it shouldn’t be seen. So it’s no surprise that Magnificent Bastard Productions have struck gold with their format in which they get one of their actors drunk and have to roll with whatever punches they throw during the show. They’ve found success with both Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare and Sh*t-Faced Showtime previously, and that can now be counted as a triumvirate of triumphs with their new festive show, A Pissedmas Carol.

A Pissedmas Carol follows the plot of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol with a cast of five and a script by Lewis Ironside. Or it intends to follow the plot, anyway, although the actor who’d got through two beers, a shot of vegan Baileys, and two thirds of a bottle of Captain Morgans over the course of four hours preceding the show lobbed most of the script out the window. The rules set out by the show’s MC (who incidentally, was Charles Dickens – played with adorable joviality by Will Seaward) dictate that whatever that actor chooses to do, the others must improvise around it. With a group of exceptional improvisers such as this, such a format leads to boundless hilarity. Once this performance’s drunk actor Daniel Quirke chooses to lick a castmate’s nose as a greeting, it becomes a running gag throughout the show, and when Quirke changes the ending of the story on the fly by putting Scrooge in a coma for forty years, the change is embraced fully by the other actors. The fundamental rule of improv – always say yes – is taken very seriously, which results in bountiful instances of quick-witted, gleeful silliness.

The improv and alcohol-heavy nature of the show could very easily lead to wearisome indulgence in the performances, but thankfully there is a keen awareness from the cast, as well as clear measures to ensure the experience is always firmly centred around audience enjoyment – the MC will sometimes usher things along, or Charlotte Brooke’s piano accompaniment will lead the scenes forward. The audience are also invited to deepen the chaos, as select members are able to put another drink in the inebriated actor’s hand when they so wish. By the end of the show, Quirke had got through a further three beers, which kept the voyeuristic excitement ramping up.

As mentioned, the performances are roundly excellent, and the fun that these actors are clearly having on stage with each other permeates through to the audience. They capitalise on every unexpected comic opportunity, with James Murfitt as Scrooge and Katy Baker (who also directed) as the Ghost of Christmas Past standing out in a scene where – thanks to Quirke’s machinations – their rendition of ‘Walking in the Air’ as they flew to the past brought on reams of laughter. That’s not the only song either – A Pissedmas Carol features a host of Christmas classics, all fantastically sung, from Issy Wroe-Wright’s scene-stealing ‘Last Christmas’ to the gorgeous harmonies in ‘Fairytale of New York’.

A Pissedmas Carol has carved out a format that sets it apart from any other Christmas show, yet also puts it head and shoulders above them. Forget panto – this is the most fun you’re going to have in a theatre this festive season.

 

Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by Rah Petherbridge

 


Sh!t-Faced Showtime: A Pissedmas Carol

Leicester Square Theatre until 5th January

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Murder, She Didn’t Write | ★★★ | February 2018
Sh!t-faced Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice | ★★★★ | April 2018
Sh!t-faced Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet | ★★★★ | June 2018
Murder She Didn’t Write | ★★★★ | September 2018
Sh!t-faced Showtime: Oliver With a Twist! | ★★★ | September 2018
Stick Man | ★★★½ | October 2018
Sh!t-Faced Showtime: Oliver With A Twist | ★★ | March 2019
Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: The Taming Of The Shrew | ★★★★★ | April 2019
Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: Hamlet | ★★★ | June 2019

 

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