Pros: Some laughs and an interesting plot line.
Cons: Lacked pace and rhythm, and was trying to be a bit too clever for its own good.
It seems a lot of people make pacts when they’re younger. I once made a pact with the devil that he’d take my soul if I ever wrote down the phrase: “Michael Buerk likes spaghetti down his trousers.” Shit. In Kinkyfish’s play Spoofing for Gordon at The Hen and Chickens, the four characters had made an equally disturbing, but perhaps more understandable agreement.
The action takes place in the kitchen of Gordon, one-fifth of a group of old friends who – for various reasons – have drifted apart. The four others are congregating around the dining table, with Gordon nowhere to be seen: there’s Simon – a nervous ponytailed pinko; Suzie – a genial Scot; Chris – an Italian with toilet trouble; and Adam – the aggressive City type. They’re obviously there for a reason, and it’s obviously something important to reunite them after all these years. Are they the last five users of MySpace?
No. It’s actually an important act, which one of the four in the kitchen must perform. And to choose, they must ‘spoof’. I admit, I hadn’t come across this term – I was rather looking forward to an evening of ex-Labour Leader impressions – what you do is you hold some coins out in your hand and other people guess how many you’ve got. Or something like that. The rules weren’t made clear.
What was made clear were the different agendas each character had. Almost too clear. There was a moment where Suzie and Simon were talking, and Simon said, “Do you remember when…” and proceeded to describe a moment in the past that Suzie evidently did remember. It’s one of those eggy inserts you know are designed to give you as an audience member some important information – it just could’ve been communicated more naturally and subtly.
There were other moments that lacked in the subtlety department. There were lots of obvious tensions and history between the characters – swarthy glares galore. I realise the writer here was, admirably, trying to add richness and depth to the characters, but I felt it was too intricate for an hour-long play and meant that the captivating set-up was neglected somewhat. There were pregnant pauses where there should have been great dramatic tension, and when things did get going the performances lacked the required emotion.
All in all it was an interesting idea that wasn’t executed particularly well. It looked professional – there was a nice touch with a painted-on clock giving the sense that the room was being decorated – and there were some genuinely funny moments amongst the chalk and cheese characters. The twist, when it came, was fairly intriguing – but again, the way it was built up didn’t feel natural.
When you don’t have any new characters being introduced during the play, or any new occurrence that can affect the characters, it’s very hard for their story lines to shift and progress in an engaging way. Spoofing for Gordon felt exactly that: static and without any agent propelling it forward. A shame, because it certainly meant well.
Author: Duncan Battman
Director: Rajan Sharma
Showing: 12-16th August 2014
Box Office: www.unrestrictedview.co.uk