People You Know Productions are going for a cross between Posh, and an Agatha Christie novel, except that nobody here actually wants to work out who the killer is. That’s far too sticky a situation and who would want that staining the family reputation. What would father say? It’s a shame that neither the performances or the script deliver on that promise, it becomes like watching someone do their best Boris Johnson impression for 50 minutes.
A group of university friends meet again at the family pile, in order to celebrate a birthday party, which becomes a surprise wedding. We experience the night in fragments and flashes, chopping and changing about in time, in an ambiguous manner that leaves the audience a little scrambled for what has happened and what is drunken revelry. Effort had been made with the props and costume, and the cast looked the part.
The comedy comes from jokes worthy of the worst stag do from the men, and your standard catfight bitchiness from the women. That I am not entirely sure if the production wants us to laugh with them or at them. The piece is performed with gusto, although the performers seem a little unprepared for the thrust stage.
Due to the fragmentary delivery, the darkness in the story is a bit muddled and the true darkness is backed away from. The story also draws some strange false equivalencies - I’m not sure if I would describe gay panic on the same level of darkness as kidnapping, abuse and murder.
The show contains one of my real irritations in theatre stereotypes, every woman in the story is in love with one man. However, with the increased diversity of representation in many shows now the modern twist on this is to add pining gay people, still in love with the same straight man. Stacking a trite female stereotype onto a trite queer one.
It also runs afoul of the Game of Thrones-style shallow characterisation. For example, if we have lots of dialogue between characters saying something about a figure in the story, but you don’t show an inkling of this in the performance of that character or the plot as a whole, it doesn't make it feel true to the audience. It is precisely this weakness that undermines the final twist of the story, making it unearned and confusing.
It frustrates me because there are touches of a really interesting scenes - the moment where the two women in the piece, actually talk to each other like adults, about the way they have been lied to and tricked and set against each other was revelatory. It's a shame it had to come after some slut shaming and a cat flight.