EFR - Reviews of MenSWEAR Collection: Three. Two. F*ck

MenSWEAR Collection: Three. Two. F*ck

Wed 30th July – Mon 25th August 2014

reviews

Claire Murgatroyd

at 21:23 on 7th Aug 2014

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Watching three men roll around, play-fight and argue in a claustrophobically small ‘bedroom’ space sounds, upon initial description, like exactly the kind of childish indulgence that most Fringe-goers try and avoid. However, the second that the three actors began to wake up and speak, the production came to life in a magnificently unexpected way. What initially appeared to be a two-dimensional laddish comedy starring three hungover twenty-somethings, general hopes were not high amongst the audience. However, from so inane a question as "what's up with you?", the tension mounted slowly and carefully to create an unforeseen series of moral dilemmas and plot twists; a thrilling progression that lasted until the final moving scene.

The play broached the subject of artistic integrity, as the most tortured of the group, Rob (Hadden) began to worry that the group’s band will never achieve true originality. This formed the basis of the plot, and despite the notion of performative inspiration not being particularly novel, it is one that the writer/director Jack West has been very knowing to select as the theme for this piece. The Fringe festival itself relies on thousands of people to painstakingly develop ‘new’, ‘innovative’ acts to flaunt, and the way in which West tackled this fraught subject was quite brilliant. His characters were so developed and enthralling to watch, that at no point did this piece feel overly judgemental or part of a try-hard agenda.

The acting, was also, however, excellent, and it would be impossible to discern one actor as being even a tiny bit ‘better’ than another. Their roles were different, but only really worked as part of a unit, and it was their reactions to each other, combined with their individual confidence that really made this play something special. Rob Hadden, Josh Quigley and Craig McDonald managed to make the audience feel a much wider variety of emotions than I would have thought possible from a piece that fundamentally gets to the centre of the classic ‘radical hippy’ issue of what it means to be an artist (man) .

Joking aside though, this production may have been a bit of a slow burner, and towards the beginning, the boys’ banter could have used a little tightening up, (the repetition of “calm down, let’s give Rob a joint” began to grate a little, for example); but overall this play was calculating in knowing exactly how to maximise suspense and manipulate audience emotion. This was a excellent example of a piece that was short and (bitter)sweet, and one that I would highly recommend.

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Amy Peters

at 02:06 on 8th Aug 2014

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Now, is there anything better than a philosophical comedy?! I think not. Existential angst, the duration of the self and the very human search for some kind of relevance and meaning in our lives are all hilariously and touchingly explored in this honest and engaging existential comedy.

Verging on potentially explosive success, band members and friends Craig, Rob and Quigley devise an alarmingly ingenious way of ensuring that they permanently leave their mark on a fickle and unloyal world. Jack West’s incredibly original writing is brought to life hilariously by the trio of Hadden, Quigley and McDonald, three actors who are all undeniably talented in their own right, but unite particularly beautifully and energetically as an ensemble. It is a rare and beautiful thing to see actors interacting as powerfully and flawlessly as these three; the scene during which Rob reveals his distressingly brilliant plan positively crackles with the chemistry between these actors.

Simple set design and lighting absolutely ensures that not only is the talent of the acting trio broadcast, but it also showcases the impeccable writing from the creator of this brilliant piece, Jack West, who deserves commendation for so starkly exposing the fears that so many of us have, but few dare to think too much about. There was a definitively voyeuristic element to the staging, which amplified the reality and tender humanity that courses through this piece. We are invited to recognise the anxieties of these young men within ourselves, and probe further into questions that we have all asked ourselves at some time: are we important? What’s the point? Is originality in art – or life – ever possible? Is it something even worth striving for?

Do not be fooled into thinking that watching this is a purely cerebral endeavour – genuinely laugh-out-loud moments are abound, with many a low-brow dick joke peppered into the philosophical discourse to hilarious effect. Although all three actors are genuinely funny, through a combination of witty writing and spot-on timing, Quigley stands out as a comic pro.

Three, Two, F*ck is a true gem of this year’s Fringe, and it would be foolish to let it pass you by. If you’ve ever wondered what happens when three young men, the product of a self-involved, externally validated, stoically individualistic generation take the matter of self-importance to the extreme – or even if you just want to laugh at some sweary Northern lads working through an existential crisis – then MenSWEAR is absolutely for you.

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