EFR - Reviews of Bobby Gould In Hell

Bobby Gould In Hell

Fri 16th – Sat 24th August 2013

reviews

James Bell

at 22:00 on 22nd Aug 2013

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On the face of it, ‘Bobby Gould in Hell’ should have provided an hour’s solid entertainment. The premise is interesting (a man is dragged down to hell and asked to explain how he has lived his life), and the actors are obviously talented and enthusiastic, but unfortunately this production ultimately fell a little flat.

Initially I wasn’t sure if this was the fault of the script or of the actors, but I think it was a little of both. Bobby, played by Danny Hutton, dealt well with his character, but Paul McCloud and Scott Oakley as the two devils were much less successful. It was as if they had no clear plan for what to do with their characters. What’s more, they didn’t work well as a unit and it often felt that they were getting in each other’s way rather than sparring and reacting off each other. Kizzy Lindsay as Bobby’s ex-girlfriend similarly seemed to fall back on loud theatrics rather than any more nuanced character exploration which left the whole endeavour feeling curiously hollow and a little pointless.

The play is set in hell and grapples with the question of individual freedom, the extent to which we are intertwined with other people and how much we will inevitably hurt, to a greater or lesser extent, everyone we come into contact with. This is all fair enough, but the problem is that I didn’t feel I was learning anything new or being made to think in any new ways, a fault reflected in the repetitive dialogue and somewhat static plot. The end of the production, when Bobby is absolved of his sins because he demonstrates he is sorry for what he has done, is similarly puzzling.

There were some positives, however. There were a few hilarious moments and the actors obviously knew how to react to the audience. Bobby and his ex-girlfriend worked extremely well together, but, apart from that, there wasn’t much to celebrate. Unfortunately this show will not last long in my memory.

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Marnie Langeroodi

at 13:46 on 23rd Aug 2013

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This play was well executed by a cast of strong actors. Bobby Gould’s interrogators have a particularly entertaining relationship - a case of 'good cop, bad cop' where Scott Oakley’s character is the more dominating of the two. He has a great stage presence and demands the attention of the crowd and his fellow characters. He is sexually threatening towards Bobby, which is shockingly both entertaining and uncomfortable to watch.

It is only when Glenna (Kizzy Lindsay) enters that he meets his match. Unlike the others, she is not submissive. In fact, she somewhat overpowers the drama for quite a while, until she is finally carried off stage. The actors use the space to its full potential and move well on stage, expressing frustration and anger, and the single chair is used to great comedic effect. I also thought light and sound was used well to depict a literal representation of hell without extravagant scenery.

We are on Bobby’s side against the interrogators, however, despite being likeable, he manages to sound like a creep. It's nothing that we witness him do or say, but the what we are told that he has said in the past. Wanting to scratch Glenna for example, wanting to kill and eat her, and, of course, wanting to a shove a toaster up a certain somewhere. This doesn’t really correspond the Bobby we see. The biggest question we are left with is whether he has died? And how is it possible for characters to switch back and forth between ‘home’ and hell? The plot is obscure but forgivable.

The dialogue was repetitive; “I want to go home” and “I haven’t done anything”, were uttered on multiple occasions, with the same debate recurring again and again. There isn’t a message as such, and the concept is not exceptionally thoughtful, rather the premise is very simple in fact.

Overall, the play was entertaining and received several laughs from the audience. I think the idea can be taken further and developed into a more thought-provoking story. However, what was presented was done so with skill and professionalism.

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