The Journey

Wed 1st – Mon 27th August 2018

reviews

Lottie Hayton

at 10:00 on 15th Aug 2018

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Comedian Stuart Laws’ humorous take on romantic relationships was jarring from the outset. The actor Will Brown’s initial flustered appearance on stage, where he commanded that the house lights be turned up and claimed that a third actor was sick so Phoebe Sparrow would be improvising his part, had an immediately disconcerting effect.

The central premise was that Adam, played by Will, and his girlfriend Kate, played by Phoebe, had won a competition to go to space. Once underway this presented a witty, if a little bizarre, opportunity for some insightful comments on the interactions between male and female. Solid acting from both cast members, the convincing delivery of lines, and the quirky script initially created laughs and captured audience hearts.

The setting in Space allowed for an added layer of humour. The usual arguments between a couple were punctuated by ideas of theoretical physics. Adam’s failure to flush the loo when the gravity is turned off, for instance, resulted in “floating orbs of piss”. Witty insights were also made on the difference between male and female. Adam, for instance, was best able to understand his relationship when he used the metaphor of a video game, navigating emotional “levels”.

The central story of Adam and Kate was warm, if a little weird. The voiceovers throughout, however, added to the disjointing effect of the initial claim about the missing third actor. As a booming voice reiterated the sentiment, “so much exposition”, one could not help wondering if Stuart Laws was aware that one can have too much “exposition.”

It is hard not to spoil the plot but it might suffice to say that as the play wore on the audience were introduced to ever increasing layers of fiction. So many plays within other plays had a tiring effect. Where reality begun was so unclear that some audience members even left towards the end. Indeed, this was encouraged by Adam. The actors ability to keep up this pretence, with a devastatingly discomforting effect was impressive. Nonetheless, one could not help feeling that if Laws had stuck with the basic premise of a play set in space, the wit and resonance of this piece would not have been compromised by trying to be too clever.

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Georgina Macrae

at 13:05 on 15th Aug 2018

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The sad music and bluish lighting before the show began confused me. Is this a comedy, as advertised, or is it a mournful drama? Then we were given an announcement from a sweaty, worried, muttering Will Brown. Starting a play with an apology creates awkwardness. It shifts the focus of the comic moments – laughter from confusion doesn't quite compare to laughing at something genuinely funny.

The beginning features an intellectual and sparky comedy about misogyny with a bit of word play thrown in. It was good, and everyone was laughing a bit. But ‘asides’, with the house lights up, break up the drama in order to explain things and fill in background details. Unfortunately, instead of explaining away kinks in the plot as intended, these interjections make the play disjointed and self-conscious.

A weird and gloomy recording, stating “I am a black hole in her life”, doesn’t seem to fit with any of this at all, except potentially Will's interfering asides. But the play remained as confusing as it was from the very first announcement. I felt that the sketchy outlines of plot, provided in asides, were completely necessary to some otherwise broken scenes, but the whole thing was too 'clever' and a bit try-hard.

Talking about the “rhythm of arguments” and analysing their “mechanics” got a bit irritating, and I didn’t know whether that was the focus of the play or the comic dialogues or the spaceship setting's ‘journey’ itself. The different layers seemed to be fighting one another and my laughter was too-often grounded in confusion as to what was going on. I didn’t know what journey I supposed to be taking.

Without giving more of the plot away, I liked that Phoebe Sparrow argues that Will talks "about a woman like she's a video game." From the asides in the earlier chunk of the play, I agree. But by this point the play has been further twisted and confused and, for me, this made for inferior comedy. I don't enjoy trying to work out what's intended to be funny!

So, overall, it's too meta for me. The layers of muttering and apologising, with dimensions of real and fake, and sparks of anger and emotion all washed over me in the end. The two skilled actors seemed to have fun, and that's enjoyable to watch, but I was too lost by interior conflicts to walk out impressed. If you're looking for something clever which tries to be a bit different, attend this comedy in a space ship and see what you make of it: you might be laughing heartily, or you might just leave before it ends.

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