THE EARLY HOURS

Tue 20th – Sat 24th August 2013

reviews

Christian Kriticos

at 21:25 on 21st Aug 2013

1agrees

0disagrees

Fear, despair, frustration – these are all emotions you will feel during a performance of ‘The Early Hours’ – but, above all of these, you will feel boredom. You may think you know what boredom is (I thought I did), but trust me, you really don’t. During this torturous hour-long production I felt as if I had been imprisoned. I was uncomfortable, fidgeting throughout, repeatedly striking myself in the head with my notepad. One of the notes I managed to scrawl down simply reads “This is an abomination”. I’m not joking.

Let me try to relay the plot. ‘The Early Hours’ follows three separate stories, all focussed on various over-privileged teenagers talking on their smartphones about college dinners, A-Level results, love, and whether or not daddy will buy them a shiny new red Mazda. Who cares? The characters are all horrifically annoying, and the dialogue is shouted back and forth endlessly (handy hint: yelling ≠ acting). Also, why is it that half the male characters at every play I go to see at the Fringe are sexual predators? I’m tired of all this misandry.

Throughout the play there was incoherent interpretive dance going on all around, which added nothing to the production other than further alienating the audience from what was already clearly an uncomfortable hour for all. At one point an actress was held upside down to recite a line of dialogue for no discernible reason. The sad thing is this choreography obviously took a lot time and effort to rehearse; I’m afraid it wasn’t worth it.

Only something that was trying so desperately hard to be good could be this woefully bad. Congratulations to writer/director Suzanne Marston for knowing who W.B Yeats, Michel Foucault and Harvey Milk are. Simply saying their names over and over again isn’t clever though.The entire production was the textbook definition of trying too hard. I appreciate that they were attempting to capture the essence of what it is to be young, but everything was just so far over the top that it just descended into some sort of sick farce.

Perhaps the only positive was the music. The three piece band, featuring two guitars and a keyboard player, was competent, and offered some small relief every time they played. Oh yeah, I also got a free toothbrush in my press pack, but I’m probably going to give it away because looking at it makes me think of this play and thinking of this play makes me feel depressed.

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Joshua Phillips

at 21:31 on 21st Aug 2013

1agrees

0disagrees

‘The Early Hours’ is quite possibly the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Actually, scratch that. It is without a doubt the worst thing I have ever seen. I have seen squashed badgers on the hard shoulder of the M25 that have filled me with more joy. The production just has that few redeeming features. A shambolic, incomprehensible train-wreck of a production, ‘The Early Hours’ lurches from bad to worse quicker than you can say “pretentious”.

A sort of mish-mash of joyless interpretive dance, pendulous dialogue and shouting, ‘The Early Hours’ tries to do everything and succeeds at nothing. There was sort of a plot. Set in a barely-fictionalised nightclub in a barely-fictionalised Cambridge, Suzanne Marston’s script tries to show three not-very-intertwined skits on the kind of genital-mashing teenage sexuality that the teaser adverts for ‘Skins’ a few years past did far better. On top of that, it tries to be deep and meaningful about issues. Again, cf. ‘Skins’. There are quasi-meaningful little riffs on GCSE Chemistry, stars, Shakespeare and Yeats. (What is it with bad plays and Yeats references? A play that has recently been demoted to only the second-worst thing I’ve ever seen was filled with really obvious Yeats references as well).

It does not help that each “character” is played by three or four separate actors. For instance, the first skit has a character called Chas, who is divvied up into “Chas”, “Chas’s ‘Good Boy’ voice”, “Chas’s ‘Bad Boy’ voice”, and “Chas as dancer”. Adding to the already-confused plot was some sort of interpretive dance, choreographed by Amy Holly. Quite frankly, this makes as little sense as the rest of the production. People are picked up mid-sentence, turned upside-down and put down on the other side of the stage, still in full flow. There was some sort of window-thing which kept being passed around between the twenty-or-so “Clubbers” (capital C, of course: it’s more Significant that way). Nobody on stage was hurt, which is probably to the company’s credit.

And yet all this is nothing compared to something quite frankly ludicrous on the production’s flyer. There is a neat little row of stars: five of them, in fact, next to the word “Imprint”. “Imprint” is the school magazine for Impington Village College, the school where this sorry show was conceived. And frankly, that just makes me angry. If it is not outright fraud, then it is at least deceitful. People pay good money to see shows at the Fringe: to try to sell your show based on feedback that is necessarily sycophantic simply deprives genuinely good shows of audience members, and ultimately devalues the whole experience of the Fringe.

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