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Credit: Sam Elwin
Credit: Sam Elwin

Disconnect, Ugly Duck – Review

Pros: Fascinating premise, interesting mechanic.

Cons: Underwritten characters. Needs more polish – would benefit from a few workshops.

Pros: Fascinating premise, interesting mechanic. Cons: Underwritten characters. Needs more polish – would benefit from a few workshops. On the top floor of a former tannery just south of Tower Bridge, ten convicted criminals sit aboard a ship prepped to take the remnants of humanity to a new earth – and the audience must decide whether they stay or go. As the story unfolds, we learn about each of the characters’ pasts and their case for staying on the planet of ProxC, or heading out into the dark reaches of space in search of a new life. This piece…

Summary

Rating

Poor

Newly-written dystopian tale has some nuggets but comes across as a first draft.

User Rating: 4.65 ( 1 votes)

On the top floor of a former tannery just south of Tower Bridge, ten convicted criminals sit aboard a ship prepped to take the remnants of humanity to a new earth – and the audience must decide whether they stay or go. As the story unfolds, we learn about each of the characters’ pasts and their case for staying on the planet of ProxC, or heading out into the dark reaches of space in search of a new life.

This piece of new writing had both a great premise and mechanic, allowing the audience to vote on the ending they’d prefer to see. However, during the interval, which also served as the voting session, it was revealed that this was the first time the troupe had performed in front of an audience. Somebody mentioned that the cast hadn’t yet done a scratch – if true, it showed.

Some of the characters were beautifully written and performed, especially after they’d had the chance to warm up – Agnes, played by Rosie Rigby, was credible and believable, and stuck to her beliefs throughout. Max, played by Nansi Nsue, was equally consistent and never strayed from her character. However, one particular actress was lacking in concentration; a couple of preempted lines reinforced the need for a little more rehearsing by the promising cast. Some of the characters could have been further fleshed out and ended up being a waste of solid talent – in particular, Peter (played by Sam Elwin) was sorely underwritten for such an engaging actor. There were ten onstage characters in total – perhaps some of them could have been combined to create more three-dimensional characters that the audience would then have had more time to invest in?

The production value of the show left much to be desired. Paint was smeared thinly over the walls, the tubing and the duct work (clearly made of toilet roll tubes), and wiring was haphazardly splayed across the set without any sense of purpose. The cast’s boiler suits looked like they had just come out of the packaging, giving no sense of history. The overall effect was disengaging.

The Brexit/Trump/post-apocalypse angle that made up much of the marketing blurb was relevant but didn’t need to be forced on the audience – in fact, it would have been more meaningful if nothing was said and the audience was given the chance to figure out the (apparently accidental) subtext bubbling away.

A brilliant idea, though clearly still in the embryonic stages of development. On the evening, my seasoned theatrical accomplice and I voted strongly in favour of moving onwards and upwards with a piece that has the potential to be something great, needing only a bit of a polish to get there.

The team also missed a trick by not playing The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go at curtain close…

Writer: KT Jemmett
Director: Michelle Shortland
Producer: ProxC Productions
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run.

About James Prescott

James Prescott
Corporate communications executive by day, aspiring reviewer by night; James is a recent returner to London, having graduated from Queen Mary University in 2014. Schooled under the watchful eyes of the master-reviewers at Bristol 24/7 during his exodus home, James’ theatre experience also includes appearing in bits and pieces throughout his time at school and university. When not trying to hide his note-taking at the back of the venue, James can be found ogling at bicycles he can’t afford and returning to Bristol on the weekend to watch his rugby team lose spectacularly to all the other teams in the premiership