Rumours

Sat 12th – Sun 13th November 2011

reviews

Kirsty Gibbins

at 23:08 on 12th Nov 2011

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0disagrees

Four upper class couples, one untold story, endless complications and confusion and a police investigation. Rumours certainly delivers the “comic complications” it promises in its synopsis. Although you might start to worry that the overacting displayed at the beginning of Act One could get a little tiresome before too long, this is a concern that quickly evaporates.

The characters are introduced gradually, giving the audience the chance to get a feel for their standing and status. Each couple that arrives seems to become more outrageous and ridiculous than the last but each of the cast members hold their own so that no one is overshadowed across the performance overall. While some take longer than others to really feel at ease with their characters, Danny Woods as Len is not one of those and sets a high bench-mark for the other actors which perhaps makes this issue more apparent.

Although the script alone provides a lot of the laughs, the characters come to life soon enough and the comic timing integrated with the stage direction make for a light-hearted if slightly slap-happy performance. This is a production that will leave you feeling relaxed and sufficiently entertained if you are in the mood for some easy-going humour, but those looking for something a little less obvious should probably look elsewhere for fear of becoming impatient with some of the more repetitive scenes. It is a play that cannot help but leave you reminiscing about Fawlty Towers and the chaos and confusion that ensues at such a frantic pace. This is particularly true nearing the end of Act One, which seemed to leave the audience at the intermission with a definite buzz.

Act Two, in contrast, begins somewhat calmer – perhaps lagging in places but picking up when the police arrive with plenty of questions in tow. Realisation of quite how ridiculous the plot actually is occurs when the lies and cover-ups take it to another level but the audience don’t seem to mind one bit. The varied dancing ability displayed by the cast to a ‘La Bamba’ soundtrack has to be an audience favourite.

With so much going on and several really strong characters on stage, the audience’s attention is definitely captured for most of, if not the whole of the performance. A perfect remedy to forget and recover from those previous week five blues.

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Charlie Brookhouse

at 02:31 on 13th Nov 2011

1agrees

1disagrees

Rumours should be one of those plays that barely gives you time to breathe. The rapid-fire dinner party repartee sets the rhythm. And characters ought to dart to and fro across the stage with a similar swiftness. Though the cast understood as much, it struggled to keep the tempo quick and constant. Too often I felt I could discern actors anxiously listening for their cues. It only takes a few premature interjections or choked phrases to give the sense that the air of nervous anticipation is not only that of the characters but the cast also.

The play is in part preoccupied with class. At rare intervals in the script we glimpse the broader ambitions of our distressed characters. Lest we forget, these buffoons are supposedly professional, well mannered, educated individuals. Nika Strukelj best realised this in her role as Cookie. Her piercing attention-seeking screams were set against a resigned complicity in the cover-up. The production would have benefited from a broader awareness of the melodramatic potential of other characters.

The audience was in stitches at points. It was a friendly crowd. Lines that would otherwise seem flat and uninteresting became twisted into innuendo by stifled laughs. Cassie’s totem, a crystal of some sort, accrued a phallic significance, at least among those around me. Indeed, it sat well with the Cassie rendered by Susannah Odell, a sulky yet seductive professional’s wife.

At the beginning the characters are all smartly attired and reasonably well spoken. By the end, they’ve roughened up a bit. The play is quite wearing for all. It really ought to be muscle-memory on the part of the actors. Had this been the case, the slapstick and the dialogue would have been more at home with one another. Danny Woods was most in control in this respect. In his role as Len he was able completely to eliminate any sense in which his extempore might seem scripted.

Rumours is always going to be funny. The question is how far the play is able to maintain an up beat tempo. It has someway to go, but this production is likely to improve markedly from night to night.

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