Imagine the worst, dreariest episode of Eastenders. Then sprinkle on some additional cliché, poor production values and a plodding pace. This will give you some idea of what to expect from Downland Productions’ Eros which opened at London’s White Bear Theatre this week.
Now I’m all for issue based drama, and I do believe theatre has a responsibility to shine a light on areas of real social concern with the objective of moving and enlightening the audience.
But surely not at the expense of narrative, characterisation and fundamental aesthetic principal.
Writing a play about a relevant issue doesn’t automatically mean that you’re written a relevant play.
The company promised ‘an urgent topical drama about the female body, consent and agency.’
What it delivered was a confused mish-mash of a piece that seems to be a box-ticking exercise as to how many issues could be squeezed into ninety minutes.
Ross (Steven Riddle) is a down at heel photographer, holed up in his studio, which doubles as living quarter which he shares with his vulnerable side-kick Terri (Felicity Jolly).
Into proceedings waltzes blast-from-the-past Kate (Anna Tymoshenko), who appears ready to dish the dirt on Ross.
And she is threatening to bring what remains of his seedy little business crashing to the ground with revelation and a few dark secrets.
Ross and his shady business associates are allegedly involved in something nasty.
He would have us believe he is an artist – the reality is that young lives are being ruined.
Kate, now well-to-do and bragging about it, flits from avenging angel to quasi-seducer and back again, in one of many paradoxes weaved into the confusing script, played in a set that looked like someone had raided their dad’s attic.
The piece is made worse with some excruciating attempts at comedy.
Writer Kevin Mandry exercises one of the oldest tricks in the playwriting book by tugging at local London references in an attempt to get a smirk out of the audience.
“Julius Caesar visited Hounslow” or “what do you mean you like Feltham – nobody likes Feltham” marked just a couple of eye-rolling moments.
I really felt sorry for the poor actors – who were actually quite good but struggled with a poor script. Tymoshenko in particular put in a fine performance.
Jolly and Riddle too had some promising moments, and together they laboured admirably through the evening with their chins in the air.
Eros runs at the White Bear Theatre, Kennington, until September 15.
Writer Kevin Mandry delivers a confused mish-mash of a piece that seems to be a box-ticking exercise as to how many issues could be squeezed into 90 minutes.