Pretty When I’m Drunk is a problematic production; it is a play that tries so hard to be funny, and to its credit the script has potential when it’s not stuck in knob gag mode: but its delivery, over-stylisation and stumbling plot stifle any impact that the the interesting concepts might have had.
The plot is simple and direct: three conflicting parties are looking for a ring that has made its way into the wrong hands; it turns out that these hands are those of a hapless, unemployed man named Joe with an adoration of chocolate yazoo. The cast of characters is diverse and has a few hits and many misses, ranging from the brilliant, fantastically pompous and overplayed Mrs Winchester - a battleaxe widower who falls somewhere between Lady Bracknell and Judy Dench’s M - to the terrible, nonsensical Hiroku, whose proverb-ridden speech and painted on asian eyes not only crosses the Eastern stereotype line but goes so far that it can’t be seen anymore.
However, it is not the characters which are the real issue with Pretty When I’m Drunk but the delivery and acting style. Despite being a comic play, often the characters would brush over punchlines at high speed without any consideration for the jokes leaving everything rather flat, or would shout a lot as a replacement for intelligent writing. This is paralleled by the considerable overacting on the character side , which instead of creating fun and interesting additions to the story provided one dimensional, dull caricatures. This issue reaches its absolute peak when Joe’s repulsive flatmate Shaun walks out in his boxers, relying on the simple fact that he is in pants to get laughs.
This script, with a little more maturity added in, could have a lot of milage. Unfortunately, the problem is summed up in the ending: everything is wrapped up too quickly and with far too much convenience for the amount of set-up that has come before; this could have been less of a problem if the characters were fleshed out enough, but their lack of depth means that the quick resolution comes across as twee and inconsequential. The title certainly has accuracy on its side - this is one best watched through blurred eyes.