JAMES MACNAMARA: This play CODA-been a contender, but then it started discussing [REDACTED].
ADC, 7th-10th March, 11pm, £4-6
Directed by Tom Powell and Jack Gamble
*WARNING* This review contains spoilers *WARNING*
Coda. Very portentous. The end of something. The trailing off, the atrophy of something beautiful. A paedophile? Or is he? The difficulties of love and the trust that it demands. ‘Like head-butting a very cynical wall’. Too easy. Too easy. Too much.
Coda should never, ever have gone anywhere near the subject matter it attempted to deal with. It began as a vaguely promising exploration of a relationship taking a new direction. By the end, I was sorry. I was sorry that Tom Powell wrote this, rather than an accomplished new comedy. I was sorry that I had to listen to lines like: ‘accusations hang around… like vultures’.
There were some good lines in this play. Tom Powell can write good lines. Please Tom, write some more good lines. And not within a structure that you, and almost any student writer, are incapable of dealing with in any meaningful way.
A young couple are moving in together. He leaves his laptop on the train. They seem to have a healthy sexual relationship. It appears they’re in love. Then he gets charged with possessing indecent images of children on his computer, and everything goes wrong. Within the play, and with the play.
There was no sensitivity to the complexity of the situation, the horror of trying to accept such a terrifying set of circumstances. The jokes just keep coming. I liked the line ‘painting the future into one big swirly rainbow’. Tom, write this! Write these things! You could be good. Don’t write about scary shit like this. Until you’re ready. Please.
Harry Sheehan, I swear you’re following me. I’ve enjoyed your other performances. But here, you were disgracefully, hopelessly miscast. Your role required a gravitas, a seriousness, a clarity of emotion that the script didn’t give you, and I don’t think is necessarily your thing. Hattie Lloyd, I’m sorry you had to say things like ‘sometimes I think you care more for the plant than you do for me’. It wasn’t fair on you. But I think you could have made something more of the words. But then again, maybe not. Very little seemed to be in them, I’ll give you that.
What did happen? What happened in this play? The way in which the couple become distanced is emotionally unreal, utterly without nuance or necessary attention to the difficulty of the events. The clichés start to arrive thick and fast. (BOOM.) ‘You’re too good for me’. ‘I thought I’d die from missing you’.
I’d rather be trapped in a dark office cubicle with Dominic Strauss-Kahn until the end of time than listen to lines like that arrive with such unseemly punctuality. (See. Inappropriate.) Tom, you can write good. There was no need to do this. Please, sit down and write some more sketches. It’s difficult to describe how uncomfortable the writing was at times. Such a difficult emotional issue, so little real feeling.
A neighbour arrives with an amusing, irritating voice. Her lack of sensitivity borderlines the sociopathic. I understand. Her non-sequitur observations were there for laughs. They might have been amusing, in a different play, a different world. A different set of emotional circumstances. Different. Please, make it different. It’s just not right.
Tom and Jack, Powell and Gamble. Do something else. I think you could do something I might like. But please, never undertake something that requires such a specific set of emotional responses until you’re ready for it. When this kind of thing is wrong, it’s wrong to the point of being insulting. Despite some good lines, and some laughs from the audience, I must implore you: never, ever, do this again.