Appetite Theatre, lead by young playwright Serafina Cusack, are distressingly cool. All tight clothes and slashes of glitter across their faces, Cusack’s talent show characters are aggressively stylish. A play brought together by young people, about young people, for young people - Appetite have nailed it when it comes to portraying their generation on stage.
A high-budget production of Glitter and Tears might get away with relying on style alone, but until then, the writing doesn’t quite hold up its end of the bargain.
It’s sad, then, that Glitter and Tears focuses on style and lacks substance. Pitched as a satirical take on well-known television talent shows, Cusack’s Britain Can Sing has a deadly twist. It’s a play about obsession and addiction, and this comes through with subtleties in character and storylines that blend together well - so it’s a shame that the overarching narrative comes together as a forgettable Hunger Games imitation. Romantic storylines spring out of nowhere due to an absence in chemistry, and the characters are a little stereotypical - most grating when lead female Leto Lavender (played by Cusack herself) trundles out the same old untrusting, ‘I’m incapable of love’ trope. Oh, you poor thing.
The cast are confident, and necessarily so: a reasonably large portion of their stage time is taken up by solo performances as they move through the rounds of the contest, which drag a little but are enjoyable enough. Comic relief is provided by other contestants Jarvis Johnson (Sam Bossman) and Felix Furlong (Simon Bradshaw) - the piece is absolutely at its best when it stops taking itself too seriously. Bradshaw in particular shines as Russell Brand-type Felix, lapping up laughs from the audience.
Lapses in tech cues, and what appears to be a never-ending series of scene changes while the cast move the cumbersome set around in the dark, let down the slick performances. A high-budget production of Glitter and Tears might get away with relying on style alone, but until then, the writing doesn’t quite hold up its end of the bargain.