Pros: A well-written, bawdy, energetic and ultimately touching pair of performances.
Cons: The seating made it difficult to see parts of the performance and the script suffers from the occasional awkward turn of phrase.
The We Plays consists of two performances with an interval in the middle. In Cyprus Sunsets, ‘Me’ returns to Cyprus on holiday to escape the pain of a lost love and experience one last Cyprian sunset; In Irn Pru, Pru becomes desperate after one too many job interview rejections. Between a pregnancy from a one night stand and her internal self-help monologue, something has to give.
The first play, Cyprus Sunsets, certainly made a striking first impression. At the front of the stage of the cavernous Hope Theatre, our protagonist is strapped to his suitcase gyrating amidst flashing lights and club music. The rhyming monologue begins on the plane as Me becomes increasingly annoyed by a couple with two kids. I was a tad apprehensive when it became obvious the whole piece was going to be performed in rhyme, which I find rather tiring. I was relieved, however, when the rhyming structure loosened, and as the show went on it became thoroughly enjoyable.
John Seaward as Me has a commanding stage presence, keeping the rapt attention of the audience. He definitely has an authoritative performing voice, but perhaps too much so: the range seemed to go from loud to louder. A normal speaking voice would have been more appropriate in a smaller venue like this one.
The second piece, Irn Pru, is slightly more conversational in tone but no less personal. Seated upon a throne and wearing a Viking helmet, Jennifer O’Neill as Pru switches between comedy and the more tender moments of the piece with great skill. There was also a very unexpected Ally McCoist reference, which pleased me no end.
The direction and simple stage set really complement the action on stage. The few props used and every movement has a meaning that serves and furthers the story. I particularly liked the way the suitcase was used in Cyprus Sunsets: it seemed to have more uses than a Swiss army knife. I had one small quibble with the set-up of the theatre, as in the second row, any time the actor crouched or lay on stage, you couldn’t see a thing. Luckily this was a rare occurrence.
Overall, the script is brilliant for the most part. Even if the two stories are not particularly original, they each have an energy and verve that takes them beyond this. They are performed almost flawlessly by actors who seemed to be really enjoying their jobs – which makes all the difference. I left the theatre happy and with a fervent desire to drink some Irn Bru and watch non-stop clips on the internet of Ally MCcoist during his glory days.
Author: Andrew Maddock
Directors: Phil Croft (Cyprus Sunsets) and Ashley Winter (Irn Pru)
Stage Manager: Phil Parrett
Box Office: 0333 666 3366
Booking Link: http://www.thehopetheatre.com/productions/the-we-plays/
Booking Until: 15 October 2016