EFR - Reviews of Banter into Bed

Banter into Bed

Mon 8th – Thu 18th August 2011

reviews

Juliet Roe

at 13:54 on 17th Aug 2011

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It’s rare that fringe shows would benefit from being longer, but this one, at little more than forty minutes long, felt like the writer just ended it with some convenient lesbianism in avoidance of properly resolving the plot. A show that put the emphasis, both through its title and its blurb, on the philosophy of the pick-up artist Jack spent actually very little time developing this idea and more making the main character Kat shout a lot.

The cast were very good, giving a lot of energy to what was for the most part a well written script. Ok, they relied on the comeback ‘you’re a dick’ a little too heavily, but portrayals of the pushy, flirtatious mother, Jack and his incredibly ditsy girlfriend Lorna worked surprisingly well. The excruciating, self-consciously bad dance routine by Kat’s sister could have fallen flat if it weren’t for the Becky Howarth’s intense facial expression. There was a real impression of the cast all enjoying themselves, helped by their having a very broad stage space, which required most of them to be onstage as extras in nearly all the scenes. In one scene, which could have been incredibly awkward to watch, Kat tries out a faulty vibrator whilst the other cast members move around the stage singing.

The plot progressed at a good pace in the first half, but then seemed to run out of steam. It was eventually reduced to a lot of babble on stage with Kat shouting the same things over and over again. There wasn’t nearly enough ‘banter’ in the end, with Kat not even getting a chance to try out the technique on a man as (spoiler alert, but one that was obvious in the first 40 seconds anyway) it turns out the bar she keeps going to is a Gay bar. Silly Kat! Silly ending.

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Imogen Sarre

at 14:18 on 17th Aug 2011

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This play was a slightly half-hearted attempt to provide audiences with both banter and bed, providing a modicum of the first and just enough ‘bed’ that the sexual innuendos seemed faintly gratuitous, employed without any real sense of purpose or effect. This, effectively, is a school girl (plus one boy) production, upgraded to a university level only in terms of the sexual explicitness that characterised the jokes, character preoccupations and the plot’s progression. A sort of Bridget Jones-esque story about a girl whom her family consider to be a walking dating fiasco, characters were two dimensional. The actors focused primarily on getting easy laughs from a receptive audience (friends?), attempting to create comedy by the too standard routes of stereotypes and over-acting. Apart from a few initial sniggers though, there wasn’t much laugh-out-loud stuff to be found. Nonetheless, the performance was short and shameless and so pretty fun to watch.

I liked the nonsensical chatter of the women, talking nineteen to the dozen all at the same time; the quick and efficiently well practised scene changes; Danny Mellor’s delivery of the title of his book-to-be (BANTER. INTO. BED); Kirstie Silson as Lorna and her dedication to fawning enthusiasm; as well as the nice twist at the end. Quibbles must be had, however, with Rachel Kirkham (as Catherine) and her tendency to say things directly at the audience when supposedly engaging in dialogue, as well as the necessity of the vibrator scene which was neither fun to watch nor funny. What was disappointing was that, with a bit more thought and effort, this could have felt a more developed and complete piece. Something extra could have been done with the Dictaphone which, as it was, just seemed like a non-committal attempt to ape Helen Fielding. The energy and enthusiasm of the cast was commendable and it did look like a lot of fun to be part of – if only a little more of that enjoyment factor could have been transferred to the audience it would have moved it all up a notch. As it was, the strong start (featuring a guitar, some funky dance moves and a set of characters in various different stages of enjoying the night’s revelries) encouraged an enthused audience response that flagged as the play progressed. Still, if you have forty minutes and a three quid student concession rate to go with, I would.

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