|"Bed to break-up and beyond"|
by Avril Silk for remotegoat on 25/06/16
I have been watching with interest actors Scott Goodair and Hannah Brooks since they began their training at Exeter’s excellent Cygnet Theatre. Both performers are extremely talented, with engaging, expressive personalities and a sensitive, intelligent approach to their craft. Since graduating they have formed Tictac Theatre, touring Dario Fo’s ‘The Open Couple’ last year, and, during 2016, a double bill of comedies: ‘You Were After Poetry’ by Steven Bloomer and ‘The Bride to Be’ by Peter Quilter. I saw their most recent performance at Tiverton Community Arts Centre, a very pleasing venue staffed entirely by volunteers.
‘You Were After Poetry’ gave Hannah and Scott many opportunities to engage in quick-witted badinage and one-liners, displaying sharp timing and clear enunciation. As the young couple bantered their way from bed to break-up and beyond, we saw beneath the surface humour to the at best, embarrassment, and at worst, desperation, that comes with the territory. Scott and Hannah introduced us to other characters connected with the hapless couple – a bride-to-be prepared to seduce her bank manager to secure a loan; an office temp moonlighting on a sexual role-play site; a kindly but exasperated sister listening to the hapless swain. All were portrayed with astute observation, using well-choreographed costume and props to delineate them. Another critic suggested that regional accents could be used to good effect and I tend to agree. This would have helped with what became a problem for me… I did not realise the first play had ended and the second one begun. I think the gap between the two was too short by a long way. (Plus Scott had the same trousers on, I think.) As a result, I thought the bride-to be in the second play was the one who tried to seduce the bank manager in the first. I confess this because I think it needs addressing.
‘The Bride to Be’ added layer on layer of catastrophe as the bride, helped by her brother, prepared to walk down the aisle. Tictac fully realised the opportunities for comedy presented by the script. However, I have issues with both scripts: Too much reliance on the words ‘pants’ and ‘breasts’ for quick laughs - we are not Beavis and Butthead!; a dated feel to both which might have been overcome if set in the Sixties (apart from the role-play website) or perhaps the Eighties… both eras would have needed more colourful costumes; some unconvincing moments (and yes, it’s the writing, not the acting) and a brevity that might work well in a festival but in a theatre cries out for a second half.
The best moments of the evening reminded me of witty scenes between Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. I hope that Scott and Hannah choose stronger material in the future; writing that does full justice to their talents, stretches them and utilises the range of possibilities they embody. I hope they won’t be afraid of darker, edgier scripts and that they continue to flourish as they so richly deserve.
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