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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Walters’

Turkey alert!

This play is billed as ‘A slinky, sexy new comedy to make you purr…’. Well, there weren’t many laughs, I didn’t find it the slightest bit sexy and purring was the last thing on my mind when I left the Arts Theatre. What was actually on my mind was ‘Give me a drink. Quick!’.

To say much about the story would be to spoil it for anyone already committed to or mad enough to go. Suffice to say we’re in LA with a therapist and her client(s) at couples therapy. The lack of laughter was rather embarrassing, such that when a funny line turned up you were inclined to over-compensate with a fit of hysterics. There’s a certain cleverness to Frank Strausser’s idea and the story, but it’s just poorly written. When the clumsiness of the staging engages you more than the play, you know you’re at a turkey.

Mark Walters’ set manages to be over-complicated and tacky at the same time (well, he has done a lot of pantos); the scene changes take forever and slow the play down almost as much as the writing does. Even though it was a preview, it wasn’t an early one, yet the show is a bit of a shambles technically. From side stalls seats, you can see things you’re not meant to see (offstage actors, stage hands, bits of other scene sets…). The wrong piece flies in between scenes and then out after the scene has started. A skylight tilts during performance because they forgot to do it / didn’t have time to do it before the scene started (the audience gasped as they thought it was about to fall on the actress). An actress’ exit after a scene change is blocked and we have to watch her navigate a new route. Towards the end there is an odd few minutes when Tessa Peake-Jones is walking around aimlessly. This could be bad staging (director Glen Walford), but my theory is that a sound cue was missed (a phone call) and she was improvising; in which case can we have an Olivier award for Best Cover-Up please?

I felt so sorry for the four good actors – Gray O’Brien, Josefina Gabrielle, Daniel Weyman and the aforementioned Tessa Peake-Jones. At the curtain call, their expressions said ‘thank god that’s over’ coupled with ‘oh my god, we’ve got to do this again in 22.5 hours and 7 times a week for 7 weeks’ (well, maybe not…). They have only one more performance to sort out the technical stuff before the critical rottweilers come in, but I can’t see how they will sort out what is frankly a bad play that would have me wincing at the Edinburgh fringe, let alone in the West End. Not even people off the telly can save this.

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