Waterloo East Theatre
Reviewed – 30th November 2017
“Too many of the scenes are full of one-on-one dialogues that drag the pace down significantly”
Comedy is tricky and farce is a different beast altogether, timings need to be impeccable and the writing razor sharp. As a lover of all things farce I had high hopes for this show, and sadly they weren’t quite met.
Set in the backstage area of a nativity, this production directed by Stephen Davies follows the cast as they prepare for press night. Things inevitably start to go wrong as personal problems begin to arise before the curtain does. It’s ironic that there is a running joke about how modern their nativity production is when so many of the jokes feel outdated. Danny (played with a solid effort by Samuel Buttery) is a flamboyant male character who continues to protest his heterosexuality whilst wearing a sequinned mini-dress. I was quite disappointed that writer Shaun Kitchener had chosen to go in this obvious direction with the humour. Though Timothy George committed well to his role as the snooty Jonathan, snarky comments about Danny’s “lifestyle choices” just end up sounding mean and created an uncomfortable atmosphere.
The placement of a small couch in the middle of the stage is an odd choice. The couch is quite low down and near the back of the stage, meaning that when people were sat on it I struggled to see and hear them. Characters would frequently plop themselves down on the sofa, meaning any energy in the scene was completely drained.
There are however some genuinely funny moments, Jamie-Rose Monk saves the second act as Stacey, the soap star who thinks she’s living out a murder/revenge storyline. As she chased characters around with an imaginary glass bottle I felt that there could have been more great moments of physical comedy like it. Too many of the scenes are full of one-on-one dialogues that drag the pace down significantly, in particular those between Georgie (Katherine Edrupt) and Samuel (Alan Bradley) who are involved in a half-hearted affair.
Emma Tansely is fantastic as Beatrice, the show’s director. She manages to give great characterisation that makes even simple lines entertaining. What a shame that she was almost entirely absent from the second half of the show! I was also impressed with Natalie Lester’s ability to inject much-needed liveliness into scenes as Alice, the nervous understudy with a weak stomach. Marc-Gee Finch was likeable as crew member Makenzie but it was largely an underdeveloped character.
Overall despite valiant efforts from the cast, the dated nature of the material and slow pace left me feeling unfulfilled and disappointed.
Reviewed by Ella McCarron
Photography courtesy West Avenue
is at the Waterloo East Theatre until 17th December