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Play on words

Thursday, 14 January, 2010

Female eunuchs

London – Tristan Bates Theatre – 4 – 23 Jan 10 – 19:30 (1:05)

Black Eye Peas ‘I gotta a feeling’ is being played by DJ Jonnie – Tom Crawshaw, as bums fill seats, he welcomes everyone in.  Especially the ladies.

Eddie played by Yaz Al-Shaater sits on a chair at the front of the stage. The set, which is designed by Amy Penrose, is an office with white walls, three white blinds covering three windows, two desks and one clock where the time has stopped at 10.23.  Most of the furniture has a brown label/tag attached – the desks, the wastepaper bin, the laptop, the briefcase.

Eddie talks about the four walls of theatre and breaking down the fourth wall.  Fred – Michael Grady-Hall shouts stage directions at Eddie from the stairs next to where everyone is seated.  Fred has shaken the fourth wall because of where he is standing.  Eddie changes the style of his monologue accordingly – ‘Tense’ ‘Cadence’ ‘Shakespeare’.  He picks up a gun with the tag still on it as though he’s going to commit suicide.  A verbal bang, as it is a fake.

Fred joins Eddie on stage.  The men wear identical outfits with subtle differences such as Eddie’s ripped jeans.  Blue jeans, navy shirts, grey jackets.  This is a theatre company but they don’t seem terribly busy. Eddie does a crossword which is interjected with Fred’s phone call.  Some of the words from one are the answers for the other.  They have an argument about putting a sharpener in the bin.  Anger results in swearing, even lifting up a desk.  The penalty for swearing is to put 20p in a swearbox.  They also have an honesty box.

The lights go off and on again.  The phone rings.  The audience are accused of leaving a phone on.  Fred tries to explain to Eddie that you should never exchange a cross word.   Which is a saying.  The character of Eddie is slow and he doesn’t understand this.  There is some humour from this and many other puns.  An actress arrives late and tries to sit with the audience.  She speaks to Fred over the heads of the viewers and explains she had arrived for an audition for the part of a doctor.  They had already cast the doctor but Fred likes the look of this strawberry blonde girl Jen who is played by Meriel Rosenkranz, so she is invited on stage and asked to read an audition piece from an envelope – she reads an office supply costs letter in the context of her brother dying.  Which is very funny.

Jen and Fred hit it off, and after some discussion about a casting couch they kiss.  Eddie gets rather excited and squeezes his water bottle which explodes over him and the set when he talks about sex.  Fred likes his plays on words.  He says he’s writing to get girls.  Maybe not just him, but also writer Tom Crawshaw.

From this point on the play spirals into a downward descent.  The play doesn’t seem to respect the character of Jen or women.  She is treated like a sex object and dispensed of.  There is plenty of testosterone from the lads, lots more anger, desk lifting, fighting and guns.  Fred and Eddie reverse roles but this is not enough to detract from the teenage angst and adolescent hormones that seem to waft through and pervade a play that has a lot of clever thoughts and nice touches to it.  A shame that women are portrayed as mysterious emotional objects whose function is to culminate in sex and nonsensical suicide.

Cast Credits: (alpha order):  Yaz Al-Shaater – Eddie.  Tom Crawshaw – Jonnie.   Michael Grady-Hall – Fred.  Meriel Rosenkranz – Jen / Doctor. 

Company Credits: Writer – Tom Crawshaw.  Director – Tom Crawshaw. Designer – Amy Penrose.  Lighting Designer – Jacob Mason-Dixon.  Dramaturgy – Neil Keating.  Graphic Design – Yaz Al-Shaater / Haz Al-Shaater.  Sound Design – Yaz Al-Shaater.  Fight Director – Jeremy Barlow.  Technical Operator – Uncredited.    Production Manager / Stage Manager – Bekki Coward.  Co-Producer – Natalie Eskinazi.  Company – Three’s Company.    http://www.threescompany.co.uk

(c) Wendy Thomson 2010

reviewed Wednesday, 13 January 2010

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