In a blank-canvas office, the corporate machine squeezes one last drop of inspiration from two ad-men at the end of their tether. The rising jeopardy of their looming deadline, plus the sexual politics between them and their sultry superior Alex, should have promised a lively evening’s entertainment. Sadly, the poor acting delivery often masked the wit of the script.
Billed as a comedy, Pitch Perfect certainly had its funny moments, but unfortunately these were light and sparse, heavily punctured by long lectures on the power of branding. With projected animations serving as scene titles, moralistic pronouncements on truth, and the polemics against marketing culture, it felt in places like an Agitprop work against the tyranny of advertising. Interesting though some of these elements were, they felt out-of-place against the backdrop of a light office comedy. In this show the big ideas got in the way of the laughs, or perhaps the laughs got in the way of the big ideas.
One thing’s for sure: if the actors are uncomfortable, the audience is more so. Jonathan Lewis’ wordy script got the better of Simon de Cintra and Ray Eves as Buck ‘n’ Mulberry, with them frequently stumbling over lines and always shifting nervously side-to-side. They seemed to be unable to find either comic timing to carry the laughs or strength to pull off the monologues, and the audience’s collective stomach tightened for them. By contrast, Louise Tyler was calm and in-control of herself playing Alex, even whilst her character ranted and raved. She managed to make her didactic monologue honestly captivating, which was quite a feat. All three cast members gave turns as comic side-characters, and these were often the best-received moments in the show.
With such diverse themes as religion, image-versus-text, generation gaps, and art as masturbation; Pitch Perfect seemed to lose itself in wistful musings. If you’re after an evening of advertising theory with a few laughs then great – if not, then maybe you’re better-off elsewhere.