2 Become 1

Tue 9th – Sun 28th August 2016

reviews

Ryan Bradley

at 09:35 on 22nd Aug 2016

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Too many reprises of the Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabee’ may become irritating after a while. Similar problems arise throughout ‘2 Become 1’, being lampshaded by one character’s impatient anger in the climax. An acknowledgement comes slightly too late. The song is used after nearly every scene transition, though the definition of a ‘scene’ seems to be rather loose in ‘2 Become 1’.

Following four friends as they navigate the dating scene in the 1990s, the pop comedy shifts between song and skit without much warning, cementing a relentless, energetic pace. Indeed, energy is the defining characteristic of this production. Excelling in its physical comedy, the four women foolishly gyrate and gurn with confidence, mining humour from situations which may sound flat in mere writing. In these moments, Jess’s (Natasha Granger) and Molly’s (Kerrie Thomason) frightening, supposedly seductive facial expressions are a particular highlight. Their singing is also surprisingly good, though Charlie’s (Eliza Hewitt-Jones) voice does often sound quieter when compared to her companions, muffling a lot of what was sung. This may have been a technical fault, but I cannot be sure of that. Above all things, the show is self-assured and brazen, never halting to confront its own lack of depth. Instead, it proudly boasts of it, revelling in a sea of tackiness.

The production only really pauses when male voices interject mumbled, inane phrases which immediately remind one of Nick Park’s ‘Creature Comforts’. As a whole, the play’s dialogue is rarely excellent, but some lines are especially sharp, playing with 90s clichés in a series of colourful allusions to Buffy, Jennifer Anniston and even Mr Blobby. “I’m a girl who likes to live in the moment. At the moment, I have a five year plan” declares the overly obsessed Amanda (Bethany Black), who takes a liking to an audience member in the front row.

Indeed, it is the audience whom ‘2 Become 1’ secures. Through frequent interaction, the spectators attending my performance seemed to hail the show with boisterous laughter at regular intervals. Although the closing minutes fixates too closely on karaoke, a storm of songs overwhelming and tiring their listeners, ‘2 Become 1’ is an enjoyable, thoughtless distraction.

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Hannah Congdon

at 10:22 on 22nd Aug 2016

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‘2 Become 1’ is a fun, giggle-filled chick-flick from Swipe Right Theatre, taking you on a nostalgic journey through 90s girl-band hits as the four central characters negotiate a night of speed-dating at a club. It is earthy and unpretentious, exposing the endless blunders and quirks of male-female relationships, breaking a few taboos about sex and boldly bashing down the absurd notion of behaving in a ‘‘ladylike’’ manner.

The collective cast of Natasha Granger, Bethany Black, Eliza Hewitt-Jones and Kerrie Thomason nail the age-old Britney and Spice Girl tracks, and have got their respective roles down to a tee. Frustratingly, though, the roles they play are the clichéd female stock-types that scream of a bygone era in drama. We have Jess, the moping one who has just broken up with her boyfriend, Amanda who can think of nothing but the prospect of settling down with a husband, two kids and a handbag dog, the sexually predatory Charlie, and Molly, the crude, rough-tongued Scot. The women are characterised almost entirely by the way they interact with men, and there is hardly a conversation that takes place across the show that is not in reference to relationships. These four women have the audience falling at their feet laughing, captivating a sizeable crowd in a central venue – they could do anything with their characters or plot and still have the audience on-side, and I wait in anticipation for the ironic twist, the knowing wink that that will tell us all of this is a chuckling parody of heteronormativity and entrenched female stereotypes that will make us rethink the past 30 minutes of the performance. But it does not arrive, and the 90s numbers roll on, one entertainingly sung from the ladies’ toilet cubicles with toilet-brushes as surrogate microphones.

People around me crumple in hysterics as sexualised lines and dances are directed at unsuspecting individuals in the front row, and the use of a drunken argument in front of the kebab van as a metaphor for post Brexit Anglo-Scottish relations gets a good chortle. But at the end of the performance I am left wondering what might have been, and whilst the tone the show is going for is ‘’girl power’’, much of the humour here seems to come at the expense of women.

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