Review: trade

ISA BONACHERA finds trade very underwhelming

Cambridge Corpus review Tab Theatre trade

I was so disappointed to see great potential go to such waste.

I have to be honest in this review; to soften up criticism would be a disservice to shows that earned good reviews. The premise of ‘trade’ is completely original – the show is about female sex tourism and the struggles of three woman that share the same men in totally different ways. I was very excited to see a complex show with a concept that is so unfamiliar to me. They just didn’t do it right.

I usually really enjoy all the shows I see in Cambridge, but the quality of ‘trade’ was very low. Before coming to the show, I didn’t see a single preview, nor posters for this show. The show was poorly publicised, and, as a result, the Corpus Playroom was almost empty.

I just couldn’t get behind this show.

The entire show was a really long conversation between three women. The characters seemed to be talking in backwards riddles the entire time. As a result, the dialogue was incoherent and extremely difficult to follow. The dialogue included strange sentences in which each characters would say one word, and moments in which one character echoed what other character just said.

Trade tries too hard to be original and deep and it ends up being ridiculous at times. Similarly, the use of flashbacks was unnecessary and just added to complexity and confusion.

All the performances were underwhelming. The actresses engaged in a long conversation about their conflicting and shameful feelings, but in a completely flat tone. Then, other parts of the show were over-dramatised. The performances were unnatural and, at times, very awkward. The audience remained disengaged, and looked bored throughout the show.

Lola Olufemi gave the best performance, but it was still not outstanding. One of the other actresses actually had the script of the show with her at all times, and she was reading directly from it. This turned out to be helpful for me because I was could deduce how long until the end, just by estimating how many pages were left for her to read.

A good premise was unable to save this production.

Trade was the first performance in Cambridge for the three actresses. It is very difficult to give a great performance your first time, especially when you are given the challenge of playing a leading role. All three characters are highly complex, and proved too ambitious at this time. The three actresses were very brave to take this risk, and I really hope to see them in future productions at Cambridge. They deserve credit, but more importantly future chances to unearth what potential did show through last night.

Trade is totally different and new for the Cambridge scene. It is great to see how Cambridge students are trying to produce totally different kind of shows than those we usually see. In this case, it didn’t work. I do admire the production of trade because they took a risk, but that doesn’t mean I could enjoy the show.

30% – scraping a 3rd.

Photo credits: ADC Theatre

Further to Isa’s review, The Tab would like to mention there were very unforeseeable last minute problems with the production and the reader is asked to keep this in mind.