Home » Reviews » Off West End » Abandon, CLF Arts Cafe – Review

Abandon, CLF Arts Cafe – Review

Carrie Byrne & Cat Rosario
Directed by Natasha Markou

★★

Pros: An honest portrayal of life with the refreshing reminder that the good guy doesn’t always win.

Cons: The narrative lacked real punch.

Our Verdict: This is a live performance with a cinematic feel and structure. It would perhaps translate better on screen to articulate subtle themes and ideas more clearly.

Courtesy of The Bussey Building

The world of internet dating opens up a field of great material for the screen and stage with the scope for stories that are hilarious, dark, gloomy or all of the above. Abandon attempts to be all of these things, unfortunately achieving none of them in any great depth.

The story follows two middle age Irish sisters living in London attempting to enliven their sex and love lives through internet dating. Onia, an artist and flamenco teacher, finds financial advisor to the stars and straight talking single dad, Clyde, with whom to overcome the boredom in her marriage. Meanwhile, divorced Westminster administrator Cara chooses an idealist PHD student, Philip, thirteen years her junior to re-awaken her passions.

As Onia and Clyde’s relationship starts to heat up, only threatened by the looming shadow of Onia’s marriage, Cara and Philip seem to get more boring. When Onia is eventually dumped by Clyde for having her cake and eating it too, the sisters scheme a revenge that can only be equated to a cruel high school prank.

The cast feels too big for what should be an intimate focus on the four main characters and yet not big enough for the number of crowd scenes and the extra drama a secondary character could bring to the plot. This is where one could see the story being better articulated on the small or big screen – a space where intimacy and subtlety can be more easily conveyed. Tricks of Onia’s mind and a whole sub-plot around the sounds she hears in her head (accompanied by projections whose meaning is never really clear), would have benefited from the use of a camera demonstrating her perspective. Quick one off scenes without dialogue meant to imply a character’s status and state of mind looked clunky on the stage where they could be more affective on film. The acting style was also a little too subtle for the stage, again emanating an intimacy that would have been better suited to the silver screen.

The venue itself, the CLF Arts Cafe was altogether too large and too open for the level of intensity the subject matter and dramatic intentions of the plot required. This was also hindered by the cabaret seating of the audience, too widely spread with too many opportunities for poor sight lines.

Where I was looking for an insightful and witty take on modern love, I did not find it. Perhaps after this review, I’ll see it in the movies.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Abandon plays at the CLF Art Cafe, The Bussey Building until October 6.
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