Frenemies

Sat 6th – Sat 13th August 2016

reviews

Una O'Sullivan

at 10:40 on 10th Aug 2016

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‘Frenemies’ is a collection of short sketches vaguely centred around the theme of said pseudo-friendly relationships. Although fragmented and odd in tone, it has been put together nicely. The ensemble cast of eight put on some well-rehearsed scenes, yet the entire thing suffers from an amateur lack of coherence.

The acting is fun in parts, but dislikable characters make the entire thing progress slower. A shipwreck scene with two particularly obnoxious characters, characterised quite well by Nicholas Dore and Richard Staplehurst, seems to drag for the same length of time for which they are supposedly afloat on the ocean...four days. As caricatures, the acting is passable, yet they are too far removed from reality to be funny— impersonations of children fall into two dimensional stereotypes, and a bizarre enactment of a woman telling two strangers on the Tube that their handbags are fake brands has a strange mixture of an uncalled-for cattiness and wide-eyed naivety that is never explained.

Some really good moments shine through— particularly in the scene ‘The Kill’, where one man attempts to reenact how he killed his friend in a dream. Fun use of food, and interesting fight choreography, exemplifies the dog-eat-dog aspect of a world where friends use each other to achieve their own ends.

Fight scenes, dance scenes, and physical movement are well-executed yet unremarkable, and it is unclear why they are present in the loud dark scene changes. There are unexplained parts where a man (Chris Warren) attempts to tell a joke to his irritated colleague (Juliette Chrisman), and the cast of the joke are amusingly visible behind a semi-transparent screen. This is characteristic of the shows innovations— they are all nice ideas in their own right, but there is no consistency across the sketches. Each piece has a different writer, and the quality between them varies immensely. These fluctuations lead to a potluck variety show where good acting mixes with less good acting, creating a thick stew of audience discomfort.

‘Frenemies’ has funny moments, largely stemming from the ridiculousness of its concepts. All in all, however, it could be improved a lot by creating more narrative logic between the scenes.

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Julia O'Driscoll

at 11:55 on 10th Aug 2016

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There are moments of Sedos’ ‘Frenemies’ that are enjoyable, but the overwhelming feeling I left with was bemusement. This six-part sketch show compiles the work of six different writers and claims to make light of ‘the people you love to hate’. From a head teacher’s office to a raft at sea, each scene stands alone and the characters are certainly diverse. Unfortunately, there is not really a sense of continuity or cohesion between the scenes, as the ‘Frenemy’ situations we encounter are just a little bizarre.

The first scene is entirely underwhelming, and is followed by a colourful dance routine to Britney’s ‘Work B****’ that comes out of nowhere, and might have made more of an impact as an opening. Other such baffling moments include an unnecessary fight sequence involving handbags, mothers brawling over violin duets, and a dinner party that had more drama in it than an entire series of 'EastEnders'. This scene, ‘Perfect Couple’ was actually one of the strongest, it just could do with a little less in it, or being extended to a longer length piece.

A few roles could do with being toned down a notch: there are several stereotyped characters who are just a little uncomfortable to watch. Some performances are less irritating than others, including Katie Rice as a sarcastic sister and Juliette Chrisman as one of the early mentioned mothers. Cook, (Richard Staplehurst) in ‘Necessity’ actually provides a very convincing performance, the audience just cannot tell if it is meant to be funny or not. This seems to become a theme throughout.

The sound and lighting work is a real asset to the show from the outset, as ‘I Can Tell Your Handbag is Fake’ inventively uses the lighting and sound effects to transport us into an Underground station. The simple staging throughout is inventive and varied, yet unobtrusive and I was impressed by the range of settings convincingly created. Yet it is just in the execution of certain details that weaknesses become apparent: an repeated and unforgivable mistake that occurs throughout ‘Frenemies’ is the poor transition between scenes, as more than once actors from the last scene found themselves as extras in the opening lines of the next one.

The cast and crew clearly take tremendous enjoyment in putting this show together, and it is an inoffensive and intriguing watch in a lovely venue. Perhaps our audience was a little older than the show’s intended demographic: I feel like for young teens this could be a hit. There is potential and I would be intrigued to see another Sedos production after this...

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