Part of the Camden Fringe 2013
Pros: An interesting idea and very funny.
Cons: Doesn’t fully develop what is a lively and unusual concept.
Our Verdict: A funny, clever take on the morning after the night before.
Any play that promises a mixture of Kafka’s Metamorphosis with the morning-after-the-night-before’s stag party is always going to provide for an interesting evening. This one is set in the upstairs of a charming and atmospheric Camden pub, where we walk into a scene set with empty bottles, cans, fast food wrappers and bodies slung in and around furniture. We then meet these bodies and are introduced to Dave, John, Terry and Steve awaking after the previous night’s stag do with a heck of a surprise in store for them.
The Hangover franchise has done a lot to over satiate us with glorifying hangovers, but the twist in this is certainly a more creative breath of fresh air into this market. The first clue to the twist is provided in the programme, but even so, when it is revealed on stage it’s surprising and funny, becoming apparent to the characters and the audience simultaneously.
The play is genuinely humorous and there are many, many laugh out loud moments. The humour is decidedly crude, but suits the twist in the plot to a tee. What could easily be a very one-sided account is balanced by the addition of “Rachel” and the majority of funny moments are provided by the excellent and comical supporting cast members, Ami Sawran’s Steve and Laura Astin’s deadpan and brilliant Terry.
The problem the production has is that it presents such a juicy premise and dilemma, but doesn’t elaborate farther than the crude jokes and cries of ‘what are we going to do next.’ The dialogue circles round and round, and we alternate between moments of calm self-reflection and Dave and John squaring off. Although this provides ample opportunity for character background and history to climb into the scene, the real meat of the production should be the answer to the tantalising questions the scenario presents – why, how and what next?
Kafka gets away with never telling us why his fate was bestowed on Gregor as he provides a tale that, although unfeasible, is hard to challenge. It is perhaps an unfair comparison, but this play is not as inscrutable and has too many pauses in dialogue and action, which inevitably allow the audience to wonder how and why. Occasionally the characters wonder if they are meant to be learning a lesson, but other than the lead character feeling regret for the way he treated his fiancé – and even this is at a stretch – there doesn’t appear to be a moral to the story.
The idea is great, but just isn’t brought fully to fruition. That’s not to say, however, that this wasn’t an enjoyable piece. It is delightfully funny and will resonate well with those who have had the misfortune of attending a stag or hen night and struggle to remember it the next day. This is definitely not one for a younger audience though- the C word is thrown around a lot. It’s funny but I do wish it had given me a little more to think about.
Stag Nation runs at The Colonel Fawcett until 14th August 2013.