The Pretender

A man is preparing for his wedding day and thanks the audience for responding to his ad looking for wedding guests. He begins to tell us the story of his life from his childhood until the present day through short monologues, projected films and pieces of physical theatre. He uncovers the horrifying truths and creates a disturbing sense of unease as the boundaries between fact and fiction begin to blur.At first, The Pretender seems to be stand-up comedy: the tribulations of an unprepared groom on his wedding day. This quickly falls apart as 'the pretender' starts to perform a physical theatre interpretation of the morning of his wedding day. The movement is completely out of the blue, and unfortunately, the actor's physical capability is not developed enough to stop the movement from looking clunky and contrived. He also interacts with some of the projected footage but, again, although we understand how it is supposed to look and feel, the execution fails to live up to the ideas.The redeeming feature of the show is some of the films projected onto the wall behind the performer which he doesn't interact with, in particular 'My Childhood'. They are moving and, although quite abstract, make perfect sense to those willing to apply some thought-power.It is difficult to decipher whether The Pretender is supposed to be silly or deeply profound; certainly there are moments which are one or the other. The result is that the performance becomes confused and we start to resent the performer more than feel for him. This is not helped by his wooden delivery and awkward stage presence. I did not care about his wife, his aspirations or his lies.This piece definitely needs cleaning up around the edges. If you are curious about it, go and make your own decision as I feel like this is a play that is going to split opinion.

Reviews by Stephanie Bartlett

The Blurb

The night before his wedding a man wakes, wracked with guilt about the lies he's told. Stylishly innovative theatre combining spectacular video projection, physical theatre and mesmerisingly dark animation with narrative, emotion and humour at its core. www.eltorotheatre.co.uk