Pros: Young, enthusiastic cast making best of the material available.
Cons: Tries too hard to be funny, weak script with a predictable plotline.
I’d not previously heard of the Tristan Bates Theatre, although must have walked past it a thousand times positioned as it is between Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road. Bad Bat Productions‘ The Probleming is presented as part of the Camden Fringe Festival which once again provides a showcase for new and emerging talent.
Cynthia, bored with University life, somehow ends up in the company of Nicole, a loud party girl obsessed by three childhood friends who never made it through puberty. Cynthia is frequently unsettled by Nicole’s ongoing battle with mortality. Musing in the student union bar, they look for time fillers to break the monotony. They are intrigued by the Speculative Analysis Group, predictably known as Spec Anal; members are dedicated to the investigation of paranormal activity. They meet Dave, campus nerd and psychic all rolled into one. They soon discover that Dave is the only member of Spec Anal. Undaunted, the trio take to the woods in search of paranormal activity. Both Cynthia and Nicole are forced to confront their demons in a desolate wasteland. As they come to a halt in an empty barn, the voices Cynthia thought she could faintly hear grow louder. Nicole’s sense of foreboding intensifies as artificial lights fade in and out. Does Dave have a hidden agenda? Does this not ring the tiniest of bells with anyone?
Sadly, the script had a number of defects, but for me the lack of imagination in the plotline was the biggest issue, and I found that the characters did not have much depth to them. As a rule, I am easily pleased when it comes to comedy, but this piece just wasn’t as funny as I had hoped.
All creatives borrow ideas from fellow writers and directors; there are after all, only seven plots for a story, so the possibilities are limited. However, it’s what the script writer does with the story after its borrowed that really counts. What might sound like a great plan on paper doesn’t always translate well to screen or stage. There’s nothing wrong with redoing a well-worn tale, but it has to bring something original and daring to the table. This production was an unruly rehash and added nothing of value to the horror genre. The cast, Emma Sterling (Cynthia), Ellen Gallagher (Nicole) and Adam Joselyn (Dave) all tried their best but ultimately failed to make the story work.
Writer & Director: Steve Jordan
Producers: Steve Jordan & Ellen Gallagher
Box Office: 0207 240 6283
Booking link: http://tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/the-probleming–camden-fringe-2014
Booking until: 2 August 2014