EFR - Reviews of 2 Become 1

2 Become 1

Fri 7th – Mon 31st August 2015

reviews

Holly Harper

at 10:19 on 20th Aug 2015

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In the year in which the term feminism became almost, very nearly, an acceptable one, this spectacular celebration of female sexuality, humour and music could not have been a more appropriate production for this year’s Fringe. If it seems like feminism has only existed for the last 6 months, you need look no further than 2 Become 1, an original theatre production in which the only cure for a broken heart is the power of the female voice, whether that be in the shape of your friends or the empowering institution of the Spice Girls. This musical about 90s dating habits is hilarious, uplifting and formidably fierce.

The characterisation of this play is shamelessly stereotypical, with each of the four actresses playing a different version of ‘that girl’. All were tremendously personable and played with extraordinary energy, with a stand out performance from Kerrie Thomason who simply had to pull a face to send the audience into fits of laughter. Consecutive nights of sold out shows has surely played a part in the consistently confident and passionate performances in this debut musical.

The direction by Thomason and Natasha Granger is at its most brilliant in the section of the play devoted to speed dating. There is no idealism here, each character as weird and wonderful as the next in their attempts to find love or at least someone to take home at the end of the night. Every so often the action is interrupted and darkness descends. Something scary is happening. Is that the voice of a man? This is a show in which the male voice is for the most part silenced and, when briefly heard, consigned to an intermittent interruption, merely filling the time whilst the women prepare for the next scene. What they have to say is bland, unimportant and passionless, next to the excitement and colour of the rest of the play.

The transition between the comedy of the speed dating and the criticism of modern dating was a clever parallel to draw, if a little heavy handed at points. Indeed, despite the drama being based in a time when dating websites and Apps like tinder didn’t exist, it is hard to see this play as anything other than a nostalgic journey into the days when physicality was an important aspect of meeting someone for the first time. Even the name of this debutant theatre company, Swipe Right, is a nod to the superficiality of 21st Century dating.

These four women are witty and astute in their observations of modern society and the absurdity of its reductionist dating habits, but most importantly they have a good time celebrating a golden age of women in music. It is difficult not to fall in love with the infectious character of this new musical.

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Mel Beckerleg

at 10:23 on 20th Aug 2015

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2 become 1 transports the audience to an era of classic pop songs, land-line telephones and cosmopolitan magazine. It’s a no-fuss, feel good kind of show, very entertaining and unashamedly ridiculous.

The cast waste no time in setting the laughter rolling; the heart-broken Jess (Natasha Granger) expresses her pain through the immortal words of the All Saints’ ‘Never Ever’, and her helpful friends waste no time in busting out a hilariously exaggerated hit number.

The plot is essentially non-existent; it’s simply a night out with the girls – a best friend quartet, each representing a different Spice Girl, exploring the joys of speed dating. All the standard caricatures are assembled: Jess is accompanied by her three friends, the promiscuous Charlie (Eliza Hewitt-Jones), a neurotic Amanda (Bethany Black) and the awkwardly dim-witted Molly (Kerrie Thomason).

It’s an amusing piece, and the audience are quickly won over by the reckless dancing of the four friends, who thrust themselves (literally) into a musical repertoire that reads like an old NOW CD, featuring the likes of Shanaia Twain, B*witched and TLC. The dialogue is peppered with crowd-pleasing song quotes and ironic quips, along the lines of: “we were meant to be, like Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston – unbreakable.”

The Tragedy and Don’t Call Me Baby mash-up said everything that needed to be said about the generic beats of 90s pop, and whilst some of the jokes might be a little obvious, audience interaction is employed to hilarious effect.

It’s the dancing that draws in most of the laughs for this show, but the gag of four women gyrating does wear a little thin. It’s also a shame that much of the singing has a karaoke quality. This is especially notable for the final song montage where they shoe-horn in the famous numbers that they didn’t manage to get to during the show.

That said, the lighting is superb, and there are some inventive staging tricks, including a clever, if slightly cringey, toilet scene.

The show is an upbeat, blast from the past experience and if you can embrace the flamboyance and go along for the ride, then you’re certain to enjoy more than a couple of good laughs.

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