Going AWOL

Fri 4th – Sat 19th August 2017

reviews

Ela Portnoy

at 23:35 on 4th Aug 2017

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Elizabeth Eaton and Lydia Keating are not what you would describe as professionals. They spray you with plant mist and get your notebook damp, and then give you a torch so you can do their lighting for them. Some would love it. Some wouldn’t.

I was in the some who quite liked it.

After two women in a 1960s office murder their boss, they pack him up in carpet bags and go off on a farce of a trip around Western Europe. From boats to bikes to riding on bulls, their frankly absurd Britishness and very different personalities take us on a heart-warming journey of love, friendship and psychopathic tendencies.

Eaton and Keating’s characters contrasted in a Laurel and Hardy way. Eaton plays the useless but loveable underling in a newspaper office, Keating her manic and control-freakish boss. Both of them act every other character they encounter on their trip, embracing stereotypes, putting on silly accents and fooling around with costumes and props. They run around the tiny stage and into the audience. They weren’t the best actors, and I could probably do a criticism of their acting, but the fact is the show does the job and it doesn’t need to be great – it makes people laugh, and that’s what matters.

The women walked in between us, gave us things, winked at us, talked to us, poked us – in a way that was very un-British. This, I liked. It’s not easy to break down reservations and get into people’s ‘personal space’ without being insensitive, but Eaton and Keating struck that balance beautifully. The larger part of the audience was roaring with laughter and enjoying the show. My neighbour and fellow reviewer was not impressed at the ridiculousness, but she was in the minority.

The set consisted of a metre-long rope ladder pretending to be a train track, and a bucket pretending to be a pot of spaghetti carbonarra. And yet, that was part of the show’s charm. Not only do the performers break the fourth wall and play around with their cheap props, they also improvise along with mistakes, and this even made my neighbour smile. The show is ridiculous and low-budget, but it knows it, and embraces itself as it is.

If you want a bit of a laugh (and maybe a couple of drinks) go see this. You might think it’s terrible, but at least it’s terrible on purpose!

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Helen Chatterton

at 08:19 on 5th Aug 2017

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'Going AWOL' is a two-women comedy adventure hailing from Bristol that follows a pair of accidental murderers around the world on their quest to dispose of the body. Many individual elements of the production were successful, but regrettably, the farcical nature of the comedy proved divisive to the audience; some were in stitches whilst others were left in stony silence.

Elizabeth Eaton and Lydia Keating are undoubtedly capable actors, who portrayed the storyline itself well. The multitude of extraordinarily varied roles and accents taken on, which included but was not limited to a raging Spanish bull, a dog and an erratic Scottish OAP, were handled well and with good humour. That being said, Eaton was the standout performer, who carried an air of a northern Miranda Hart.

Where the performance flagged was the jokes themselves, which could often be considered to border on childish, and quickly grew old. Few of the jokes felt original, and the continual reliance on vulgarity was another problem area. As a result of such, the hour-long performance seemed to drag and many of the scenes seemed unnecessary to both the plot and the humour. The plot itself was not the focus of the performance, but the failings of the comedy highlighted its basic and predictable nature. Additionally, the end of the production was nothing short of ridiculous and seemed to spiral into pandemonium in a matter of seconds. However, half of the audience would most likely disagree with this analysis, as some were in hysterics. This was to the production's benefit as it made the whole thing seem slightly funnier.

Ironically, the funniest moments of the production were those unplanned; ones that were improvised and ad-libbed, such as their reactions to noise from upstairs filtering through and technical mishaps, as well as faults in their own performance. Similarly, whilst when Eaton first broke out of characters into a fit of the giggles it seemed unprofessional, it soon came to be part of the ridiculous nature of what was occurring on stage.

The DIY nature of the set dressing and props is an element of the production that should be praised. With very limited props and costume changes a number of scenes were emulated, and the decision for the cast to acknowledge the flaws and limits of such was one that diffused further cynicism. The use of audience participation on occasion was unrefutably intelligent. The time period of the 1960s was well captured in the main costumes of Eaton and Keating, and contextualised references. On a minor note, the retention of tongue and cartilage piercings by Keating was distracting at times and out of place.

As previously mentioned, the performance was not without its technical faults, such as late lighting and sound effects. The bubble gun also refused to cooperate. Hopefully these will be resolved for later performances.

Overall, the production has a relaxed air, being well aware of its own flaws too, but it relies heavily on a good-natured audience with a liking of the farce genre for its success. Overall it lacked the qualities to make it memorable. A little alcohol might have enhanced the farce.

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Comments

Anwen Cole ; 7th Aug 2017; 00:14:42

I think the late lighting and sound cues were intentional, part of the farce. This is becoming popular like in Noises Off, The Play that Goes Wrong etc. I thought it was very enjoyable if not taken too seriously

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