EFR - Reviews of Built for Two

Built for Two

Fri 3rd – Sat 25th August 2012

reviews

Ellen Smyth

at 09:43 on 14th Aug 2012

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'Built for Two' invites the audience to be a fly on the wall to a shared bathroom, where we get an insight into an extended pre-night out pep talk, including its fair share of heartache, preening and catastrophe. The staging is impressive, with a toilet, shower, bath tub and sink all used well in different scenes. It’s loopy really - who knew watching somebody pluck their eyebrows and gargle mouthwash to the tune of “The Grand Old Duke of York” on the toilet could be entertaining? But this is where the problem lies: watching someone going through the motions of their routine is dull if the accompanying dialogue doesn’t spice things up a little.

The actors themselves are very talented, but the overall storyline needs development. Jennifer Campbell sits at the helm of the show to guide us skilfully through the chaos and gives a strong performance as Julie, who is prone to entertaining hissy fits. Stuart Gresham is so suave and flirtatious as the self-confessed ‘professional bum’ Andrew, that it takes you by surprise when it turns out that OCD Peter (Harry Eagan) is the one to watch out for. But it is Kate Butler who steals the show as Lizzie – her inner turmoil and emotional breakdown provide an honest and believable core to the production.

As a replica of drunken conversations often overheard in pub, club, or even uni house bathrooms, it’s good. Julie’s got her knickers in a twist over Andrews’s tardiness meanwhile Lizzie drops hers for the best friend's boyfriend. (Oh Peter, you devil.) Queue emotional rollercoaster and a relationship train wreck. However, in terms of revealing something new - it falls short. Somebody has slept with someone else they shouldn’t have, there’s a love triangle to gossip over, and do you think we should wear heels or flats out tonight? On some levels I feel like I’ve been there, witnessed these exchanges and shared this bathroom before. It ticks all the boxes for a typical girls' night on the tiles, but might be missing something extra.

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Helena Blackstone

at 09:57 on 14th Aug 2012

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This is a well-polished piece of drama. A very big applause should go to Lucy Kempster and Emma Beverley, the adept writers of this script, who I admire for their mastery of naturalistic and quietly amusing dialogue. Moreover the casting is spot on and the actors’ high standard of acting brings out the subtleties in the script extremely well. The characters are believable, well thought out and familiar without being stereotypical.

Julie (Jennifer Campbell) was at first slightly over-performed and seemed to be aware of the audience, unintentionally laughing a little with them; but this is a very minor criticism as by laugh I mean only a subtle smile behind the eyes. In fact she warmed up and, a few scenes in, I no longer felt that this was the case at all. Her boyfriend Peter (Harry Egan) is at first sweet and easy in his role, but I felt he fully fulfilled his potential when his character turns towards the nervous and eventually darker brooding personality, who is often silent onstage, but casts a shadow of tension over the rest of the action.

Julie’s best (male) friend, Andrew (Stuart Gresham) is a cheeky flirt and has much more comfortable stage presence. His acting is naturalistic almost to the point of being odd on occasion, as though he isn’t performing at all. At other moments he seems to play with the audience, still without compromising the naturalism in his performance; he uses an imaginary bathroom mirror as an excuse to face into the audience and amuse us. He is the driving force behind the comedy in a scene in which he is oblivious to the tension between him and Peter the boyfriend, alone in the bathroom together (or perhaps feigning to be).

I very much enjoyed the lack of plot, and despite this was on the edge of my seat, literally, at some points. I found what plot device there was to be unnecessary and awkward in its cliché - a conversation overheard by Peter which I would expect to sabotage his relationship with Julie, but was in fact happily surprised at how little it propelled the action. ‘Built for Two’ is an unassuming production, but thorough and hard to fault. I salute thee.

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