EFR - Reviews of A Series of Unfortunate Breakups

A Series of Unfortunate Breakups

Sat 20th August 2016

reviews

Izzie Fernandes

at 15:15 on 20th Aug 2016

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It does what is says on the tin. In a stuffy studio space, this comedy takes an impressive turn out of audience through a lighthearted 'Series of Unfortunate Breakups'.

The script is playful as three couples battle their way through romance and heartbreak. A colorful analysis of love encompassing references to spooning and squeezing someone until they die makes for easy watching. By the end we reach breakups; Tinder, Taylor Swift and chocolate. This is true cyclical form. The material is not itself original but the cast’s own awareness of this creates comedy. The stage is alive with animated performances punctuated by scene changes to the classic soundtrack of every modern love tragedy: Sam Smith, Adele, One Direction; need I go on…

It is helpful that the cast members are probably little older and hence of similar life stage and stature to the characters they play. They immerse themselves in the piece. I suspect the dungarees, Converse, Nike trainers and windbreaker style uniform they give these colorful stereotypes come from their own wardrobes.

'A Series of Unfortunate Breakups' does not warrant over analyzing. Given the nature of the material there is not a huge amount of room for overly complex plot development or gravitas. Interchangeable dipping in and out of the three couples differing love scenarios, does however create a range of pace, movement and mood. One minute things are hilarious, the next they become hysterical.

There are some fantastically well-observed one-liners thrown around the lives and scenarios of these love tortured couples. An ex-girl friend who informs the new, updated "soya chai extras hot toffee macchiato with cream" drinking version of herself that "mayo is a delicious and satisfying treat so go fuck yourself" merits loud laughs from the audience. At times, the light hearted tone becomes a little too frivolous; relationships ending over a stolen Nando’s card and Jemma Moon with a face like a spoon are slightly farcical.

This is by no means an unpleasant hour. 'A Series of Unfortunate Breakups' is delivered in a well rehearsed, albeit school like style. Not miraculous but a very enjoyable watch. This is charming chewing gum; perhaps the perfect thing if you’re after some light relief this Fringe.

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Coreen Grant

at 10:13 on 21st Aug 2016

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‘A Series of Unfortunate Breakups’ begins by asking, "What is love?", and ends by asking, "what is a break-up?", which effectively covers the subject matter of the whole production. An enthusiastic and lively set, the vivacity and bounciness of the cast is its main attraction. The production focuses on four diverse couples: a schoolgirl obsessed with Harry Styles and her adoring crush; an established couple with a boyfriend who cheats; a sleazy man who charms for sex, and his two separate (although introduced) girlfriends. Each couple experiences foreseeable and common bumps along the way, making this a relatable and fun, if not unique, production.

The comedy is fresh and amusing, and keeps the audience chuckling throughout. One man in the row in front of me even has a fit of the giggles, which take a minute or two to repress. The jokes are new and relevant, making frequent references to contemporary pop culture (for example, a comparison of a couple to Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston). This is backed up by snippets from current, mainstream artists such as Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Lily Allen and One Direction, which all feature love as their main theme. These are used compellingly between slick scene changes, but each new scene is signalled with a sharp, invasive beep which is intensely irritating, and detracts somewhat from the ambience of the music.

The acting is another strong point, even if the characters are a little caricatured in their exaggeration. One of the most compelling roles is played by the silent boyfriend of the obsessed school girl, who does not say a word in the entire production, but instead provides a contrast to his chatty, bubbly counterpart. His spot-on timing and body language provides a different type of hilarity and adds a layer of complexity to the occasionally repetitious jokes.

A particularly engaging element is that the whole cast remains on stage, even though the focus is only on two or three characters at a time. At the back of the stage the cluster of remaining actors imitate specific movements or perform subtle and silent gestures which are funny in an understated style, and therefore a perceptive balance with the more flamboyant and amplified comedy of the couples.

Some Riot Theatre’s production lives up to the name of its producers – light, bright, and fun, it's an easygoing hour with no convincingly heavy substance.

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