Gabe Day

Fri 2nd – Sat 17th August 2013

reviews

Ashley Chhibber

at 02:13 on 3rd Aug 2013

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The world could end any day; if it’s the tragic comedy of gallows humour you’re after, this play will not disappoint.

The stand out element of this production is definitely the writing. The storyline may be simple, but the multiple character arcs are skilfully woven together, and the entire script is brilliantly composed. Writer and co-director Rory Platt’s comic genius is equally apparent in sound-bites or in long philosophical monologues, and he gives his actors an abundance of excellent material with which to work.

Platt is at his best when drawing out both the ridiculous and the deeply serious and emotionally powerful elements of the extreme artistic temperament so often found in students, as embodied in the character of Zoey (Priya Manwaring). One of his best scenes is a slanging match which contrasts the differences between Charlie and Kate’s equally awful exes: his are almost terminally idiotic, hers demonstrate the very fine line between parody and realistic art; both sides of the argument are comedy gold.

A strong script requires strong actors to support it. Although he had fewer good lines than most, Nick Fanthorpe’s portrayal of the straight-faced Simon was a certain highlight. Sara Ahmed as Kate was skilful, both completely believable and very likeable from first to last; so too Michael Roderick playing the drugged-up DJ, Cooper- hilarious whether dancing, giving his take on the meaning of life, or merely laughing.

Unfortunately, not all of the performances were as accomplished. Tatiana (Maude Morrison) showcased a caricature of the highest quality, but her lack of depth stuck out when the other characters were played to be realistic. Until late in the play, Charlie (George Ferguson) also showed little variety, and ranged only slightly from his basic position of angry and loud.

One of the major weaknesses of the play is the character of Walton, played by the writer himself. Absent for much of the piece, but central to its denouement, Walton must, of necessity, cast a long shadow; he does not, and through his text messages comes across as a slightly stale joke. Through the poor development of this character, the final scene lost some of its comic potential.

Yet, these criticisms aside, ‘Gabe Day’ need not fear a shortage of ‘talent’. It is very well suited to a student audience – who else could care so much about the philosophy behind a nightclub? – but that is in no way a limitation; a script of this quality cannot help but be funny.

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Anjali Joseph

at 09:52 on 3rd Aug 2013

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The star of Gabe Day was the script. Rory Platt’s writing is a feast of witty one-liners and sharp observational humour. The cast were clearly talented, but the production occasionally suffered from a heavy-handed approach to the characters created by Platt.

The familiarly tragic Facebook activity and promotional attempts of ill-attended student club nights are beautifully satirised in Platt’s writing, as are the pseudo-philosophical midnight ramblings of spaced-out arts students. There were several moments in this play which induced genuine belly-laughs from the audience, and the pace and flow of the dialogue between the actors was incredibly natural- by no means an easy achievement and one that does this production credit. There were a few small stumbles in delivery which occasionally caused the performance to lose momentum, and there were moments in the first half of the play which lacked energy, but these were minor issues which were ironed out as the production progressed.

Nick Fanthorpe’s portrayal of adorably square Simon’s well-bred dismay at his surroundings was absolutely bang-on, as was Sara Ahmed’s wonderfully dry depiction of Kate. However, Maude Morrison’s interpretation of Tatiana, the sloaney club promoter, whilst still generating chuckles from the audience, was hammed up to the point of actually detracting from the humour in the script. Tatiana is arguably given some of the best lines in the production; her character is one part Made in Chelsea, one part insufferable, iPhone-touting club hack. It seems a shame for such a well-written parody to be obscured by deliberate overacting. Similarly, although it was a pleasure to watch the extent to which Michael Roderick’s entire physicality was devoted to his depiction of Cooper, the tripping DJ, vocally his performance was slightly overwrought.

This was an impressive piece of new student writing, with much to recommend it. By relaxing into the devastatingly funny caricatures that Rory Platt has created, this production could capitalise on the laughs they are already generating from their audiences. Even so, Gabe Day was an amusing and carefully considered mixture of social observation and absurd plotline, and has the potential, with a few tweaks, to be even funnier.

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