Can theatre take the piss out of being pretentious? Yes, of course it can, in principle. In reality it’s rather difficult. Buoy attempts to tackle the difficult question of ‘collective identity’ and retaining a sense of the individual while ‘belonging to something else’ - in this case a band. As the character Rob asks ‘how can I belong to Buoy and to myself?’ Yet the play itself shies away from addressing these questions, in fact they are hardly touched upon until the final scene and seem to rely instead upon mocking hipsters. A worthy pursuit, but difficulties arise when the audience is unsure as to what exactly is meant to be farcical and what is not.
The plot revolves around a group of young East London kids, you know the type - ripped denim, sunglasses indoors, probably subscribe to Vice - and the strength of Buoy lies in the characterization of the various stereotypes; the satirical dialogue is spot on and at points very funny. The band Buoy loses its front man to the whims of Paris and a newcomer, Rob, steps in to fill his place. The play depicts Rob’s development from homegrown nice boy to East End tool who must come to terms with ‘who he has become’.
Towards the beginning of the play especially, a couple of perfectly timed one liners had the audience in stitches. (“Environmental geography?” Genius.) The comic delivery is great; the actors clearly know how to work an audience, milking us for every laugh.
The characters themselves, as stereotypes should be, are pretty one dimensional. However, as the play progressed I found myself wondering when exactly the plot would show itself; the characters themselves were not enough to fill an hour. I was also unsure as to what it was exactly that the play was mocking. Rob’s crisis of identity could itself be seen in a farcical light but I think that one we were meant to take seriously. The script shows promise but Vardaxoglou needs to pinpoint exactly what it is that he is trying to say in order for this piece to become more than simply poking fun at wanky East Londoners. However, if you enjoy laughing at those who think Dalston is the new Brick Lane it’s definitely worth a watch.