It’s rare when the title of a show manages to effectively review itself. Unfortunately, this is the case for Half Baked. As the very first show from new Brighton-based theatre company Covert Accomplice, you might not expect a fully polished performance. However, everything from the writing to the performances only ever seemed to get halfway there.
The play either needs a more engaging plot, or sharper dialogue. Preferably both.
Too often it feels like the show’s form too closely mirrors its content, with the results giving off more of a student workshop vibe than that of a completed play. A prolonged scene where the characters are stoned sees the cast having more fun than the audience, especially as some of the so-called jokes were as dull as a poorly rolled joint.
In all fairness, writer and director Chance Bliss Dini seemed to want to develop characters and their interactions, rather than having a focus on a plot. However, this just resulted in a storyline that didn’t go anywhere fast, and took a long time to get there. The show would have benefitted from editing; for example an under developed storyline about domestic abuse was introduced without ever being given the time it needed to be effective.
The show was not helped by a magnificently unconvincing performance from Louis Heriz-Smith who spent much of the play looking as though he’d wandered onto the stage somewhat by accident. Bright spots existed here and there and, as a package, the play is not without merit. A general sense of ennui gave me flashbacks to misspent student days, whilst Frankie was excellent: a well-written character with an intensity convincingly played by Sam Razvi. There was a natural chemistry within the group, making for a believable bunch of friends.
It was an enjoyable evening and there were enough moments where I was briefly caught up in the story, before some clunky dialogue, forced moment or unconvincing performance broke the spell. The play either needs a more engaging plot, or sharper dialogue. Preferably both. Without which, I am once again drawn to the title for the perfect summary:Half Baked.