The Suicidal Tendencies of Sheep and A Dog Called The Hoff

Mon 12th – Sat 24th August 2013

reviews

Samuel Graydon

at 22:44 on 13th Aug 2013

2agrees

0disagrees

This play intricately mingles the comic and tragic from a refreshingly realistic standpoint. It is, for the most part, very much like simply sitting and watching a group of youthful men talk. The set is matched very well, and looks just as the scummy hotel room required of it. What is said is believable to a tee, down to the last excessive swear word. In the comic scenes, however, the affection of this realistic attitude does, on occasion, fall down, and somewhat crack the veneer of this otherwise polished performance.

For the more serious, tragic elements of the play are done well, with the actors presenting their arguments and fears with verve. In fact, generally, the acting admirably suited the scene, and the actors, with understandable ease, inhabited the psyches of young and outspoken men.

The trouble is that these touching moments are better than much of the comic elements of the production. There are, as the title suggests, parts where the laughs are fast and inventive. Yet, they do not come as fast as one would want and, indeed, the jokes are certainly not as zany as the title would suggest. Moreover, there are occasions when the humour and the more serious emotions do not always juxtapose quite as harmoniously as one would expect.

Saying this however, the story held my attention, and there are more turns and twists in the plot than I imagine anyone would expect from four men stranded in a hotel room talking of death and semen stains.

Perhaps it was because of the engaging nature of the story that I felt a little cheated by the ending, which does not quite have the overall conclusion that one expects. It is certainly no bad thing that I wanted the play to continue, but it is certainly no good thing that I did not realise it had finished.

The play is certainly entertaining, and, more so, does make one think deeply about the nature of friendship. Yet, in this end, it is more successful in its poignancy than in its humour, and this does, unfortunately, detract from what is, in places, a good and enjoyable play.

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Victoria Ibbett

at 10:53 on 14th Aug 2013

2agrees

0disagrees

Four young men climb the steps of a mouldering hotel to share a holiday-let in Edinburgh during the Festival. There’s only one problem: they can’t get back out. Trapped within a single room, the fault-lines of their relationships are thrown into relief against a backdrop of juvenile mortality and assorted love affairs. ;The Suicidal Tendencies of Sheep and a Dog named The Hoff' succeeds in reinvigorating a predictable format, but its stop-start pace betrays a distracting lack of confidence.

Just Like The Precipitation is a new Scottish theatre company and this is their first ever show at the Fringe. With this in mind, it is with extra enthusiasm that I commend the script of 'Suicidal Tendencies' as being very good. It is clear that this is where the show derived its chief stimulus to originality. Handled well by the cast, the script achieved both genuine humour and indisputable pathos.

However, for every moment that I succeeded in suspending my disbelief, there were too many moments where the cast let the play down by handling it poorly. Delivery was occasionally imprecise and hesitant, and there were too many lines that smacked of habit and failed to achieve the spontaneity of spoken discourse. To be rudely plonked back into my chair, feeling again the pen between my fingers… I too often failed to be convincingly transported into the stuffy Edinburgh hotel room where these characters disputed, commiserated and wallowed.

These were lapses, though, and possibly variable from show to show. More stable commendation is deserved by the director, whose name does not appear on the publicity material. The blocking was adequate, erring towards intelligent. The small stage space, easily cramped by the long-limbed Alaister (Chris MacFarlane), was aesthetically handled for the most part: two interchangeable actors remaining seated on the floor of the stage at most times to create a multi-layered focus. The use of off-stage vocals – the faulty door being located down an out-of-sight passage – was comprehensively amusing and well-timed.

I would certainly recommend this show for the lazy-afternoon variety of Fringe-goer. This is not a must-see and nor is it a quirky show to suit niche-interest. 'Suicidal Tendencies' works and it satisfies, but it doesn’t leave you thinking despite the ‘big theme’ backdrop of the plot.

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