EFR - Reviews of Get Your Shit Together

Get Your Shit Together

Fri 7th – Wed 12th August 2015

reviews

Fergus Morgan

at 11:08 on 13th Aug 2015

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Get Your Shit Together, a new musical comedy from students at Bristol University, is a well-written and brilliantly-scored show, which marries its catchy yet characterful songs with a quirky, off-beat humour. The whole show is brought joyously to life by a polished and talented cast. Directors Jude Mack and Max Kirk deserves enormous credit for shaping the production into such a heady cocktail of laughter and melody.

Get Your Shit Together’s plot is largely centred on Alex (Tom Glenister), a young man with a broken heart – the result of an adulterous ex-girlfriend – and two younger sisters, Lana and Annabelle (Sylvie Briggs and Hannah Kendall), to help him mend it. After a suitably morose opening number, the audience learns how Alex has been indefinitely suspended from his accountancy job after an impulsive rage-filled rampage with a staple gun, how he has been forced to move into a dingy bedsit, and how his two sisters have assigned themselves the task of helping him get his shit together.

Much of the humour stems from Lana and Annabelle’s conflicting attitudes towards Alex’s mental health. Lana’s world-wearied pragmatism is constantly at odds with Annabelle’s relentless positivism. The former is a shrewd, emotionally-unavailable twenty-something, the latter is a naïve 16-year-old, who is really stressed out about her 14 GCSEs; both are portrayed adeptly, but it is Kendall’s exaggerated innocence that is truly amusing. At one point, she offers to cheer Alex up through the use of a ‘mood board’.

Glenister is laudably glum and Eliot Salt, who plays Alex’s burgeoning love-interest Marguerite, a pizza delivery girl, is glorious in her shy, awkward excitement. It is Tom Grant’s Ernest that gains the biggest laughs, however, as the pianist and director of the on-stage musical accompaniment. The three-piece band, Ernest and The Keen Beans, sit at the back of the stage throughout, tenuously involved as a band in the pub below Alex’s new flat. They occasionally comment on the unfolding drama, and Grant is particularly funny when providing Alex with advice or berating his band for being slightly off-key with idiosyncratic camp.

Despite Ernest’s fake frustrations, Get Your Shit Together’s greatest strength is actually its book. A soaring, playful and elegant score that is delivered well by both musicians and actors alike. Memorable numbers include Alex’s sorrowful berating of the Secret Santa game that sparked his ex-girlfriend’s affair and Annabelle’s cheery song promising Alex “a new start in a new place”.

Get Your Shit Together is not exactly visually spectacular, performed on a bare stage, with a small bar to one side (the pub below Alex’s flat), and pizza boxes littering the floor opposite (Alex’s dingy ‘cave’). But, when the writing, singing, and acting are of such a standard, minor problems such as these barely register.

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Dominic Spirra

at 11:15 on 13th Aug 2015

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Get Your Shit Together is this year’s musical offering From Bristol’s Deadpan Theatre. The play concerns Alex's (Tom Glenister) newfound disarray having lost his girlfriend and his job in an incident involving a staple gun. His youngest sister Annabelle (Hannah Kendall) has insisted on helping her brother through this time, convincing their sister Lana (Sylvie Briggs) to accompany her.

Annabelle is left loving everyone. She conveys a manic intensity throughout, a deeply unglued character who would not be out of place announcing, "Hey Alex I love you, this is my mood board; use it or I’ll cut your cock off”, all the while holding said mood board and a kitchen knife, a manic smile plastered on her beautiful face, eyes wild.

The storyline is not ambitious, yet is executed in truly hilarious fashion, with catchy and hysterical songs scattered throughout. One, about a game of Secret Santa, is truly hilarious.

The decrepit and cavernous ‘grungy chic’ venue marries with the setting of the story, establishing an enveloping effect, which enhanced by the musical narration provided by a trio of musicians that remain at the back of the stage throughout. The keyboardist of the trio (Tom Grant) was largely responsible for this envelopment; everything he did was executed with such hilarity and subtle perfection that the audience adored him immediately. Whether playing the keyboard, the ukulele, singing or making a joke about Grindr, he was mesmerising throughout and there was genius even in his most minute gestures.

The character to watch, however, was the barman Sam, a love interest of Lana’s (Luke War). He seemed to know everyone’s lines and showed it, mouthing every word of every line from the songs to the dialogue, all while drying glasses at the make shift bar. In addition to this sort of ventriloquist magic he conveyed an excellent singing voice, particularly towards the end of the performance.

The piece was performed expertly from start to finish, each and every cast member conveying a command of the stage and emanating a comic energy throughout. Great songs, intelligent writing, superb acting and comic timing: an ideal introduction to The Fringe. A must see.

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