Saturday, 17 January 2015
Theatre review: Upper Cut
Unfortunately Romero's language is stilted, the dialogue not convincing as something people who'd just met in a formal situation would say, let alone people who'd known each other for over a quarter of a century. Ndifornyen and Andrew Scarborough, as spin doctor Barry, manage to make the most of it but Dennis-Edwards tends to sound more like a graduate of the Andie MacDowell School of Acting.
The structure is also a problem. Pinter and Sondheim told stories in reverse, but even they went for comparatively straightforward relationship stories, while Upper Cut tries to do both a love triangle and a lesser-known history of the Labour party, with neither coming off: I certainly felt none the wiser about Black Sections coming out than I did going in, and Karen and Michael's beliefs seeming to reverse positions in the course of a month would be hard to make sense of in the right order, never mind backwards. It's also uneven, with the first few scenes jumping back nearly a decade at a time, before spending the latter half of the play covering about six months in 1986-7. Fringe shows tend to get very limited rehearsal time but it's not often apparent; Lotte Wakeham's production feels like it can't have had more than a few days in the rehearsal room, the actors struggling to find new ways to have the same arguments, and making for a very long 90 minutes. A wasted opportunity to illuminate what should surely be an interesting and heated topic.
Upper Cut by Juliet Gilkes Romero is booking until the 7th of February at Southwark Playhouse's Little Theatre.
Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes straight through.