Tonally and thematically, Can Stand Up - Don’t Want To! is all over the place. Ostensibly a satire on our libertarian values, it succeeds in being awkward without ever being particularly funny. The story follows Andrew, an able-bodied man who wants to be recognised as disabled. He meets Rob, who it turns out also has an equally weird though emotionally jarring desire, the nature of which emerges throughout the play. The comparison between the two desires never really makes sense and the ending completely fails to resolve anything. Indeed the play doesn’t end, it just stops.
Both performances are often stilted and uncomfortable to watch.
The stretches in the script go beyond the amusingly ridiculous into the outright bizarre. Within a couple of minutes, Rob, who works for Amnesty and has been sent to reason with Andrew, is pretending to be blind and dancing like a madman. It is impossible to believe in Rob at all.
As a member of Amnesty we imagine he will be the voice of reason, but he turns out to be even weirder than Andrew. Intellectually too, he is bizarrely jarring. He reads Joyce and quotes, “the ineluctable modality of the visible,” but he also has a teddy bear with which he converses earnestly. Andrew is more believable, being a little more one-note. However, both performances are often stilted and uncomfortable to watch.
Incredibly, Andrew wears a T-shirt that advertises the name of the show, the venue that it’s on at and its running time. Evidently it is the same T-shirt he wears while flyering on the Mile. This may be some clever post-modern trickery, but given the largely shambolic nature of the rest of the play I am more tempted to interpret it simply as a basic lack of attention to detail.
A good idea badly executed, Can Stand Up - Don’t Want To! is paper-thin with a script that still feels like a work in progress.