Decent acting, script could be better
POLITICS!: Corpus Playroom, Monday the 20th of April – Wednesday the 22nd, £6.
POLITICS! boasts an interesting premise and decent actors, but simply wasn’t funny enough.
The main issue with the show was the script. The plot was predictable yet somehow remained frustratingly obtuse. Most importantly, it was far too long. Meaningless dialogue can easily be cut, which would energise the plot and make the scattered, worthwhile comedy in the show more prominent.
The cast were mixed in ability, but no poor performances were given and all of the actors elicited genuine laughs from the audience. I felt Léa de Garnier-des-Garets was particularly limited by the script, given only recourse to her running joke as the female Count Palatine Frederik, and I would have liked to see more from her.
Riss Obolensky gave a first class performance as the underage Druke Frank of Saxony, injecting much needed life into the show on several occasions. Indeed, Obolensky was frequently more entertaining to watch in the background than the supposed comedy centre-stage. Her work with the grapes was particularly fun.
Gus Mitchell, as Cadinal Pontificate, thankfully brought pace to several of his scenes. Whilst Mitchell only came in as the Cardinal towards the end of the show, his arrival gave the script enough life to see it through to the end.
The humour of misunderstandings in the show was drastically overused, which irritatingly contributed to the over-long script. Scenes built entirely around misunderstandings created times when the humour fell away minutes before the actors moved on from a dead joke.
I went with a friend who was more sympathetic to the show – he felt, despite the relative lack of large laugh-out-loud moments, that the show was quietly entertaining. Perhaps the humour of misunderstandings was slightly wasted on me, and a standout Two Ronnies’ ‘four candles’ moments failed to appear.
The script could definitely make more (diverse) use of contemporary political issues – the brief mentions of gay marriage, black presidents, and de Garnier-des-Garets’ historically incongruent feminism were among the more amusing moments of the show.
In a time when contemporary political issues are fairly prominent, I was disappointed that their potential in the show was not better explored, and the few nods to the general election were barely worth including. If, on the other hand, the production didn’t intend to invoke the general election, they chose a rather difficult time to put on a comedy about an election.
Costume malfunctions actually just added to the layers of physical humour, one of the elements of the show that remained consistently entertaining. Seth Kruger’s ‘protuberance’, Obolensky’s height, and the inadvertent hair loss of several characters were all handled with an amusing irreverence, and for this the cast are to be commended.
I expect that with practice this production will get slicker, be cut down, and the good parts of the show will come to outnumber the less-than-average. Yet, I feel there is only so much that can be done with this script without significant re-writing. Original student writing is always worth seeing, performing, and of course writing, but it’s an uneven field and this particular entry did not impress.
Overall Rating: Two Stars