Five Drinks

Sat 8th – Sun 30th August 2015

reviews

Rowena Henley

at 23:29 on 10th Aug 2015

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Five Drinks got off to a difficult start: the technical team were having a few issues with their sound system, leaving the actors to awkwardly pace onstage. Nonetheless, not being one to judge a show on technicalities beyond its control, I remained hopeful that I would be in for an hour of quality drama. Unfortunately, these technical blunders kept on coming (with music blasting louder than the performers’ voices for a large majority of the show) and neither the acting nor the writing were enough to make up for them.

Beyond Grindr and Brokeback Mountain, the masses are generally ill-educated when it comes to the subject of gay dating and relationships. We see Romeo and Juliet recreated and regurgitated time and again in various Hollywood romances and comedies, but rarely do we see any relationships beyond this cultural norm. The students of Leeds have been incredibly astute in tapping into a largely unexplored area, but seem to have given it no real thought or investigation. At points, the piece felt deeply misinformed and borderline insensitive about its own subject matter. A boy dancing flamboyantly and grinding against a pole acted as the protagonist’s indicator of his homosexuality, for example. I was hoping Five Drinks would be striving to move away from these stereotypes and expose their inaccuracy but, instead, it seemed to be exploiting them for laughs.

Disappointingly, the show’s biggest talents were cast in its smallest roles. Emre Kose and Lily Hall both had commendable comic timing and garnered the performance’s loudest laughs. These capabilities could never be fully realised, however, due to the limits of the actors’ two-dimensional characters. Hall actually seemed to be cast as the exact same personas twice, but under different guises: an older sister and a best friend. The monotony of her multi-roling was in keeping with the show’s tedium, and the hour began to creep fairly slowly towards its ending.

Pacing and plot development were a key issue in Five Drinks. The concept of having a series of flashbacks during a first date was an intelligent one, but the execution totally missed the mark. I found myself utterly confused by the chronology of events and completely unmoved by the half-developed storylines and relationships. The show itself seemed confused, not sure which genre to adopt: comedy or tragedy.

Five Drinks is a play with interesting ideas and one that I hope will be re-worked and re-invented with a little more time and consideration. Having only scratched the surface of this multi-faceted topic and with a few hidden talents amongst their cast members, hopefully we will see something great in the future from Aireborne Theatre’s current endeavour.

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Flo Layer

at 01:06 on 11th Aug 2015

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This sample of brand new writing from Aireborne Theatre explored the unique difficulties of gay dating. For Dylan, a newly openly gay man, a date with the 24 year old Archie presents an ideal opportunity to reflect on the most traumatic, embarrassing and poignant moments of life after coming out.

As the couple slurp down a glass of rum, the show flashes back to previous drinks – each a significant moment in Dylan’s life. Yet for such a secure and promising concept, Jake Williams and Anya Dye’s original script develops into little more than a fairly clichéd and awkward play that can’t decide whether it is a comedy or a more interesting coming-of-age drama.

Some of the most promising scenes included Dylan’s painful attempt to talk to his couldn’t-care-less sister Jaime, and a particularly humiliating night out.

It was its sensitivity to the details in everyday and pressured situations that could have made Five Drinks an endearingly funny show. Instead, the scripted jokes about blenders and skinny lattes felt out-of-place and fairly forced. Despite raucous laughter at every minor joke from an audience which I would imagine was packed with friends, I think it’s a shame that the writers felt the need to fall back on weak and underdeveloped one-liners.

The show felt awkward before it even started as it seemed that there were unfortunate technical difficulties with the soundtrack, which left the main actors waiting on stage for what seemed like an awkwardly long time before the show actually kicked off. The consistently unpredictable use of music throughout the show left it feeling way off kilter; most scenes were played out in a deadly flat silence and others to tracks that drowned out any sound of the actors.

And the technical issues didn’t stop there – most of the play relied on lighting to focus in on the action. Fine; but why keep the lights up on the whole stage and have another cast member stomp around to rearrange the set while our focus should have remained on the front right hand corner?

That said, one of the most redeeming scenes was near the end as the past and present met centre stage with Dylan caught in the middle. The dialogue flits between time periods and antagonising characters in a well-timed and clever composition to reach a suitably dramatic climax.

Five Drinks was performed by a competent cast and delivered with at least the level of sincerity required, yet a poor script and glaringly awful technical decisions made it go down like a flat and cloudy cider rather than a sparkling prosecco

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