Yes, it’s a war. In fact it’s the war. The big one, the humungous one, the war that’s been going on even longer than the Archers. Though it’s often termed a battle. The battle. The Battle of the Sexes. Yes. It’s that old chestnut.
Miranda is based on Carlo Goldoni’s masterpiece La Locandiera (which translates as “The Innkeeper Woman”, and is also known as “Mirandella”) and has been adapted (plundered) by Matthew Partridge, the brother of Alan Partridge, the notable radio DJ from Norwich and inventor of monkey tennis, which explains why “Miranda” is set in a commercial radio studio. Further evidence to support this is the use of Alan Partridge’s catchphrase – “Great banter!”: the radio station is called Banter FM. Blond bombshell DJ Miranda (Joey Timmins) plays havoc with the predatory intentions of the four weak and insipid men who clutter up the station so it’s definitely a case of the blond leading on the bland. Miranda’s radio show “Heartbreaker” sees her as not so much shock jock as dick shamer and her USP appears to be let’s stick it to the man whilst pretending to let him think he can stick it to her.
The eighteenth century Goldoni rightly saw great comedic opportunities in such comédie de moeurs as the sexes jousted and parried and carefully constructed their swordplay. These days, though, it doesn’t really work like that anymore: we just swipe right and move on.
This is the big problem with the show: nothing rings true, nothing fits current experience. So either it should be set in a time where the battle of the sexes really worked – OK, yes, the eighteenth century would be good – or the show has to be played with extreme irony: it has to laugh at itself. It doesn’t. Irony is conspicuous by its absence as Alan Partridge would ironically pronounce.
What it does do well, though, is clothes. I genuinely thought I had wandered into a fashion show by mistake. Miranda, because she is a radio DJ, obviously has to wear some stunning outfits, so that her listeners can, um, listen to her in the comfort of knowing she is dressed like a film star. Long floral dresses, chic blouses and a buttock-hugging black trouser suit with floral design, shown off to stunning effect in her Yoga sequence, presumably help to boost the listener ratings. Her producer, Cider (Nina Tolleret), who is french, goes for Paris collection Vogue-cover dresses in lace and silk and any other expensive material you can think of whilst those wishy-washy men try to subvert their blandness by showing off a whole London fashion week of shirts in a variety of shades and designs and a plethora of colourful trousers – red apparently being the new stone-washed denim (as normally worn in radio studios).
Timmins, an accomplished performer, does her best to squeeze some life out of the ho-hum script with some support from Tolleret who has a nice line in pouts and aghast reactions. The gents on display, though, don’t give her much to work with. Station owner Andy’s (Michael Timney) attempts to woo her are at the lower end of feeble, Deputy Station Manager Spencer (Roel Fox) is cannon fodder for the pseudo-seductress man-eater and Eric, the Station Technician, (Samuel Mattioli) with his nice bottom and leather tool-belt (I use the term advisedly) seems to have wandered in from the low-budget blue movie they’re shooting in the studio next door. Miranda makes some excuse to get him to bend over her desk which frankly seems like using a sledgehammer to crack his nuts. Richard (played by Peter Cabrera) – host of the “Get Over Women Club” – needs to get over himself before he could possibly be taken seriously by anyone. To these guys #everydaysexism is a hashtag three letters too long but the actors, if they’re employing emotion memory in their characterisation, must have had very sheltered existences so far.
Why Miranda would even feel the need to bother with these somnolent sheep-men is the big mystery of the piece. Whilst there are some moments of mild amusement, Miranda’s pretend faint, as a pretext to get given the kiss of life, is the lamest of all ploys and I’m probably not giving too much away to say that in the end people pair off and get married and live happily ever after.
It’s very much a case of the gentle sex giving one to the gentleman sex lubricated with huge dollops of sugar but absolutely no spice. Gigi Robarts’s direction is safe and perfunctory and she plays it for low-key titters rather than full-blown farce-inspired guffaws. In the wonderful Baron’s Court theatre Miranda is crying out for some risk-taking: or, as Alan Partridge would say, “Give us some raunch!”.
Review by Peter Yates
Toujours Perdrix presents ‘Miranda’ at the Barons Court Theatre.
Directed by Gigi Robarts, and Adapted by Matthew Partridge, “Miranda” is a modern romantic comedy inspired by Carlo Goldoni’s (the author of “A Servant of Two Masters”) classic play “Mirandolina”.
Miranda has it all. The star of the Heartbreakers radio show, she dispenses dating advice to her listeners. At the same time, she has the owner of her station and his deputy wrapped around her little finger.
But when a misunderstanding leads them to hire the one man seemingly immune to her charms, her status – both on and off air – is threatened.
Can she emerge triumphant – and teach the men in her life a lesson they’ll never forget?
Directed by Gigi Robarts
Adapted and Produced by Matthew Partridge
26th July – 13th August 2016, Tuesday – Saturday 7:30pm
The Barons Court Theatre, ‘The Curtains Up’, 28A Comeragh Rd, London W14 9RH
Tickets £14 Concessions £12
Box Office: 0208 932 4747