Bad writing finds salvation in strong acting, and AMI JONES finds a nice, warm, premature slice of home at the ADC.
ADC, 30th November – 3rd December, 11pm, £5-6
Directed by Pete Skidmore
My bank account is empty. It has only just occurred to me that the reason I’m so dehydrated is because the only fluids I drink are either alcoholic or caffeinated. And I will cry if I have to look at another Domino’s pizza (though, come to think of it, that would explain the bank balance). In other words, I want to go home. Where there’s always food, which I haven’t paid for. Where someone else will cook said free food for me.
And so it was the case that Highlight would have either made me burst into tears or cackle with nostalgic delight. Thankfully, the combination of a final G&T (scrapin’ the bottom of the ol’ moneybag) and some brilliant parodic performances placed me safely in the latter.
Tamara Micner’s latest offering proves that her writing is strongest when she sticks to what she knows best. A boy-meets-girl rom-com-type-thing based on the true story of her parents and the hilarious shenanigans resulting from their parents’ different ethnic backgrounds isn’t remotely original. But hey, it was fun. The caricatures of the two sets of immigrant parents are brilliantly painted, though she may owe more to Skidmore’s casting than her own writing.
Jennie Dunne and Charlie Merriman bounce off each other with delightful energy as Frida and Harry, the Polish-Jewish couple. Dunne in particular had me both recoiling and cackling. Her parody of the overbearing Jewish mother was both deliciously and horrifically familiar; it was oddly nice to be reminded of the Christmastime home I’m about to return to in a couple of days. (OK – I have a Japanese mother, not Jewish, but they’re similar. Trust me.).
Gemma Turnbull and Robbie Aird play the cha-cha-chatty-Chilean counterparts. To their credit, they perform a less overdone stereotype well – Aird in particular is very funny as the stolid Latino Davi, especially in his interactions with the henpecked Harry – though Turnbull’s ditzy excitement often spills over into confusing youthfulness.
Leads Charlotte Quinney and Nick Harris have by far the largest challenge, with the least interesting characters and most poorly written sections of the script to tackle. Micner’s writing was shown up most here without a skilled actor to lift it in Nick Harris’ portrayal of Ed. And though Quinney put up a brave fight, there was very little that could be done to save a painfully awkward scene in which the couple (aged 17 and 20) are supposed to display playful affection by literally highlighting one another with actual highlighters. Seriously? I mean, I know they’re meant to be American “kids” in the ’70s, but come on, guys. I’d developed better flirting skills than that by the age of 12.
Quinney in particular has in a single term already shown her stuff, so it was a real shame to see her wasted. But Skidmore must admittedly also take some responsibility for the unconvincing moments. The portrayal of the couple’s “first argument” was evident only by the fact that it was described as such directly afterwards, and all “serious” dialogue was delivered with the same speed and sincerity as the farcical sections.
We’re nearly there, guys – our stupidly early end of term is almost upon us. But if that homesickness needs just that extra bit of staving off – or you just want a bit of a chuckle – ditch that Domino’s flyer, scrape the bottom of that end-of-term overdraft and go see it.