Six friends. Five can sing. One most definitely cannot. Set in a barn, the women struggle to agree on their winning strategy to wow the judges at Yorkshire’s Got Talent, and win stardom along with a Matalan gift voucher. While Sob Story initially seems to be a light-hearted comedy, it soon descends into a much darker yet humorous examination of female friendship and the meaning of adulthood.
The script felt in bad taste at some points, though undoubtedly funny in others
Sob Story subtly addresses the realities of growing up and settling down in a small, unchanging town, something that many can relate to. The stark contrast between the womens' lives not only creates tension, but serves as an interesting insight into their characters. For example, Grace (Claire Docherty) is repeatedly teased for being ‘that regular’ in the local pubs and clubs every weekend while Rosie (Becky Niven) is criticised for being too caught up in her university life to keep in touch with her friends. A sense of disappointment is a recurring theme throughout, and in a very cheerful way, Sob Story perfectly captures the modern-day issue of dissatisfaction with life.
The cast are incredibly talented and bring somewhat stereotypical characters to life. Sarah Dingwall does particularly well in the role of Jess, a character defined by being dumb, funny and likeable. Moreover, Mhairi McCall as Sophie plays the headstrong and brash leader so convincingly that her sudden calls to use blackface to get ahead of the competition seem almost convincing. While writers Calum Ferguson and Lewis Lauder make it explicit that Sob Story does not endorse such behaviour, with many cries of “that’s racist!” from the women, it was an instance of being controversial for the sake of it, and the joke was pushed almost too far.
I found the story line’s quality did worsen as the show went on, though it remained thoroughly entertaining and engaging. While discussing serious issues, the cast found key moments of humour to release the tension they had built up so well throughout. Despite this, I feel that the deeper issues surrounding the play’s climax were not sufficiently addressed, being more of a plot device than a genuine reflection of mental health issues.
This, combined with some female stereotypes and dubious provocative humour, meant the script felt in bad taste at some points, though undoubtedly funny in others. A pinch of salt is needed with this show, but it certainly delivers in terms of humour and excellent musical numbers.