Rants, Bantz and Comas

“Happy families are all alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” wrote Tolstoy. Across the theatrical canon – from Shakespeare to Chekhov to Tracey Letts - there are hundreds of examples of how theatre can effectively utilise the drama and comedy inherent in the family unit. Unfortunately, Z Theatre Company’s Rants, Bantz and Comas adds little that is enjoyable or insightful to the well-populated genre of the family saga.

Relationships are miraculously repaired, fall apart and then repair themselves again for very little reason.

Two estranged sisters, Diane and Denise, meet in hospital over the body of their father, who has been injured in a car accident. Diane is a homemaker, Denise an ex-drug addict and their respective partners, Kevin and Keith, attempt to mediate between the warring sisters. Diane’s daughter, high-powered divorce lawyer, Katie, and her ‘posh’, un-macho husband, Andrew, arrive later and add further tension.

There are multiple problems. This is a university production and everyone looks the same age. Of course, actors can play roles very different to themselves very successfully, but in Rants, Bantz and Comas, nothing in the performances indicates the larger life experience that some characters have. There isn’t even an indication given in costumes or make-up. This is confusing: for half of the play I thought I must have got things wrong and that Diane, Denise and Katie were all sisters. Additionally, Diane and Denise (the sisters) have different accents, which is never explained. I can’t help wondering why a more suitable script, one that worked for the ages and backgrounds of all the cast, couldn’t have been found or written.

The script itself is dull and full of clichés. At one point someone mentions that the sisters are acting as if they are in a soap opera; this is exactly what it feels like we are watching. No themes or issues are explored outside the little dramas of this family, and even this drama is unsatisfying: it meanders along, never building to anything cathartic. Issues crop up – for example, Kevin has spent £300 on something unknown and Diane thinks he is cheating – but they do not appear to have any impact on large sections of the play. Relationships are miraculously repaired, fall apart and then repair themselves again for very little reason.

Every unhappy family might be unhappy in its own way, but the family unhappiness of Rants, Bantz and Comas has all been done before and in most cases, done much better. 

Reviews by Jenny Williams

theSpace @ Symposium Hall

Nightpiece Film Festival

★★
Royal Oak

Yeti

★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Inevitable

★★★★
Spotlites @ The Merchants' Hall

Case Number

★★
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

Flight of the Lawnchair Man

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A typical family torn apart by conflict of interest and personality brought together by a tragedy. A seemingly conventional family portrait hides stories of runaways, addiction and the issue of status within society, glued together by the art of laughing at oneself.

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Witness for the Prosecution

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Hairspray

From £22.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets