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A Series of Unfortunate Break Ups at the Etcetera Theatre – Review

A Series of Unfortunate Break Ups at the Etcetera Theatre
Cast of A Series of Unfortunate Breakups – Photo by Lorraine Terry

A Series of Unfortunate Break Ups dips in and out the realms of reality. Moments of believability entangle themselves with moments of complete surrealism to give us a piece that most people can relate to on some level but before you delve too deep into your inner most feelings the familiar Countdown scene change music begins and you’re whisked into another story.

We flick between love sleaze Robbie (Robert Ansell) and his two lady friends, the broken Elsa (Abigail Ribbans) and her soon to be ex Johnson (Tom Manning) and the blissfully unaware Patricia, played by writer Lucy Burke. Oh and Harry Styles… Sort of.

Get up off the floor” Johnson repeatedly asks his heartbroken girlfriend. We see snippets of this slightly comedic break up throughout the show but it isn’t until we hear Elsa reply “if I get up I’ll hurt you” that the giggles die out slightly and thanks to Ribbans’ poignant delivery we begin to realise that this is no laughing matter.

The contrast between Katie Dalzell’s strong, unashamed, mayonnaise indulging Emmy and Hermione Halpin’s wonderfully irritating Sarah (who often enjoys a soya half-shot toffee mocha chino with cream) keeps us sniggering throughout with quick one liners and a sense of familiarity. These are all people we know in the real world, slightly exaggerated, without becoming a full stereotype.

Some of the costume choices were odd and didn’t quite match the characters and extending the running time to an hour and maybe adding some more dialogue to some of the scenes could have filled this light sketch show out and added a touch more depth to the stories. The tales being told are all tales we have heard before both in our own lives and in the media but it’s the characters created that make’s ‘Unfortunate Break Ups‘ different to your usual heartbreak story.

Stealing the limelight was Hadley Smith playing schoolboy Derek. Smith keeps the audience in the palm of his hand from the get go and after spending the last 45 minutes watching characters talk about heartbreak, sex and cheating it suddenly becomes apparent that the most likeable and in the end happiest character was the one who didn’t say a word in the entire show. Now that’s got to be telling us something … Right?

4 stars

Review by Hugh Roberts

A Series of Unfortunate Break Ups
Being a teenager is hard enough, but it’s even harder if your soulmate is a global superstar who doesn’t actually know you exist…

Watch three young couples try (and fail) to battle their way through the modern world of sex and relationships with catastrophic yet hilarious results in this contemporary piece of new writing about love, loss and Harry Styles. If you think your love-life’s bad, it could be worse, you could be them…

Not to be missed if you want to learn what NOT to do in the big, bad world of love.
Age: 15+

Production photographs of A series of Unfortunate Breakups

A Series of Unfortunate Break Ups
5th January 2016 – 9th January 2016 at 7:30pm
The Etcetera Theatre
above the Oxford Arms
265 Camden High Street
London NW1 7BU


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