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Fear Of Music, Tristan Bates Theatre

Barney Morris

Directed by Alice Hamilton
★★
Pros: This story of two brothers will connect with those who have siblings. It has poignant moments and some nostalgic touches. There is a decent twist and some humour as well.
Cons: The dialogue is metered and hollow and the relationship between the boys lacks credibility. There are uninteresting stretches which undermine the impact of the important turning points in the script.
Our Verdict: With some tightening up on the script and some work on the delivery of the dialogue, this has the potential to be an enjoyable show.
Courtesy of Up In Arms
This play is about two brothers longing to escape the doldrums of their lives in a small town where nothing happens, the elder off to University in London, the younger to follow his father into the army. It explores their sibling relationship and touches on the influence they have on each other. It has poignant moments, and some funny ones. I found myself reminiscing about cassette tapes and recording the top forty on the radio on a Sunday night in the days long before iTunes and Spotify. There is a genuine story here, a familiar one to some extent that has a twist and a sting in the tail.
Unfortunately, this production just doesn’t get off the ground. The dialogue is stilted, not delivered easily throughout with the exception of one heated scene where the conversation became plausible. This is echoed in the stage direction – the actor’s movements are staged and unnatural. I just didn’t believe the two boys were brothers, I didn’t feel the rapport of a sibling relationship really spark between them. The casting is not convincing, the two actors don’t gel as family members. The dialogue doesn’t work – it is metered, quite forced and lacks credibility. There is not enough dynamic contrast in the hour and fifteen minute of discussion. In portraying the mundane banter between the boys their conversation loses momentum and wanes in interest. There is a very long, lifeless stretch which could be heavily edited to keep the real punch of the drama alive. There is some humour, but this is sparse perhaps overshadowed by the tedious to and fro of the script. Ultimately, there is not a lot to laugh at here.
It is a story with some potential, there are elements of real poignancy and those with a close sibling will identify with aspects of the relationship between them. The set is great; the wall of cassettes is inspired. It has a great soundtrack too (there is a Spotify playlist on the web page). The actor that plays Andy shows potential as he conveys the emotional state of the character with some alacrity and his portrayal of this disenfranchised youth is well observed. With some tightening up on the script and some work on the delivery of the dialogue, this has the potential to be an enjoyable show.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Fear Of Music runs at Tristan Bates until 2nd March 2013.
Box Office: 020 7240 6283 or book online at http://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/Fear_of_music.asp

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