Wild Allegations

Mon 20th – Sat 25th August 2012

reviews

Imogen O'Sullivan

at 20:29 on 20th Aug 2012

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The inability of a number of these actors to stay inside the restrictions of a spotlight, uttering half their soliloquies semi-obscured by a shroud of darkness, is an apt metaphor for this opaque and confusing story.

Whilst the actors aren’t entirely to blame for the painfully stilted dialogue, the corrosive bitterness of Ellie Allum-Marshall’s Theo, and the self-absorbed whining of the Curtis brothers leave the audience with a set of characters thoroughly unlikeable. There is evidence of competent character acting from Sevya Bonin-Briginshaw, but Nick Askill’s newspaper editor relies on clichés and taboos for cheap laughs. A similar style is resorted to in the mock-macho relationship between the brothers (played by Freddy Goymer and Jack Wilson) who more than once look for laughs on the basis of ‘not being gay’, which is an insensitive gaffe at best.

Both Goymer and Wilson play their roles convincingly and with skill. The problem lies in the roles themselves: Wilson achieves real moments of humour in the pathetic yet somehow endearing neuroses of Alex Curtis, but this constructed quirkiness is sledge-hammered home so thoroughly it feels like your head is at the end of the hammer. Freddy Goymer as Matthew John Curtis successfully portrays consistent character development and, surprisingly, ends the show as the most real and likeable character. But whilst everyone appears to be trying to delve deeper into ‘the real Matthew John Curtis’, the sad truth is that nobody cares. The character is the perfect embodiment of petty, inane 'celebrity' and neither the script nor the characterisation manage to elicit a drop of sympathy from the audience.

Allum-Marshall as Curtis’s miserable and destructive girlfriend appears to be channelling the spirit of an Ibsen heroine, imbuing incongruous gravitas in this story of petty relationships. It is utterly impossible to work out why she continues a relationship with a man she clearly hates, a point astutely raised by Matthew John Curtis himself. She inexplicably refuses to cheer up even when Curtis rectifies every complaint she has spent the last hour whinging about – one of which, ironically, is his tendency to whinge. By the climax of this piece, the protagonist appears as thoroughly confused as the audience. The motivations of these characters and the script are unclear; the two brothers couldn’t seem more different and, by the end, aren’t even dressed the same, making redundant Alex Curtis’ childish resentment of his brother allegedly ‘copying him’, and clunky sex jokes are clumsily inserted where they are definitely not wanted.

This piece is frustrating because nothing quite works. The actors are good at what they do, but what they do gets old quick, as do their barrage of soliloquies. Each scene goes on for a little too long, resulting in characters that repeat themselves and plot development that sinks into the mire; everything is overdone and overwrought. The cast could really benefit from sitting down and tracing exactly how the story progresses in order to re-emphasise basic story-telling.

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Lise McNally

at 21:47 on 20th Aug 2012

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‘Wild Allegations’, with its portrayal of a successful actor and a fiendish plot to ruin his career, is energetic and at times amusing. However, the production as a whole is an unfortunate marriage of cast and script. While they both have their individual merits, as a pair they simply don’t work well together, and the worst qualities are brought out in both.

The script is average with flashes of witty dialogue and monologues that allow for some reasonably interesting character development. However, during the large group scenes the implausibility of the plot becomes unbearable, forcing on the supporting cast in particular a performance which is embarrassingly hyperbolic, and which fails to deliver any kind of comic payback. Likewise, several of the leading parts give the actors the means to perform at a heightened emotional pitch, but doesn’t them the motive. Ellie Allum-Marshall, as the furious and scheming girfriend of a successful TV star, delivers her monologues with an impressively acidic bite to her voice, her facial features subtly disfigured by an inner and boiling rage. In isolation, the performance is apt and effective, but in the context of the story it appears completely over the top. Why this total, revolted fury? Because her boyfriend complains about his job occasionally. Discrepancies such as these undermine the effort evident onstage, and the production falls rather flat as a result.

Throughout the production there are glimpses of the obvious comedic and acting talent possessed by the company: Nick Askill is a wonderful character actor, and takes a delightful turn as a flamboyant casting director, explosive news editor, and pervy dad with equal aplomb. Similarly, the two male leads (Freddy Goymer and Jack Wilson) reach towards a kind of character comedy in their mannerisms and vocal delivery which far outstrips the quality of humour in the script. I would be interested to see what the cast could do with a different kind of play as this particular style is not suited to them. The plotline’s implausibility doesn’t allow them to develop their strengths sufficiently and issues an invite to over-the-top acting, to which the cast have replied with a resounding “yes”.

Altogether the performance shows promise but is in desperate need of a little fine tuning. The incessant monologue-scene-monologue-scene flow is static, and they need to tighten up their entrance and exits to compensate for this. Spotlights came on and off seemingly at random, plunging several scenes into total darkness and exacerbating the production's general sense of shakiness. However, the show is often funny, and occasionally very funny. By turning the lights up and toning the performances down, ‘Wild Allegations’ might come a little closer to doing itself justice.

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