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Review of Flycatcher at the Hope Theatre London

vI might have said something about what Flycatcher is about if only I had a reasonable understanding of the narrative in what was meant to be a thriller. I’m sorry to report it didn’t thrill, and what plot I could make out seemed to be a cross between a theme based on A Streetcar Named Desire (the line “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers” is even quoted) and a variation of Fatal Attraction.

Mae (Fiz Marcus) is of pensionable age, and is portrayed as senile, working her way into various social situations but not at all fitting in. This old equals stupid stereotype really didn’t appeal to me, and while the performance fitted the character, there’s something distinctly unfunny about watching someone embarrass themselves, whether or not they are aware they are doing so.

A large number of short scenes make the show unnecessarily complicated, with even the longest scenes lasting only a couple of minutes at most. The comings and goings of any number of the eight-strong cast between these micro-scenes made what was ultimately a steadily paced production feel considerably longer than it was. With so much movement of people going on, I wondered at one point whether I was even in a theatre, or stood on the concourse at Waterloo Station.

Of course, the people’s movements are better controlled on a stage than at a major London terminus railway station. The production demonstrated slickness and evidence of this being a well-drilled show – every entrance and exit was flawless, and every line delivered with clarity – even if, as I say, this clarity did not extend to the storyline.

Bing (Alex Shenton), somewhat bizarrely, goes door to door annoying people trying to sell something they allegedly desperately need but never quite getting around to telling them what it is. But he and Madelaine (Emily Arden), in their weekday routine, keep bumping into one another. A cringe-worthy and awkward conversation or two later, they start seeing each other: a scene in a cinema auditorium in which Bing indulges in that great bugbear of many audiences, rustling, proved strangely amusing.

However, the production plays for laughs so much that any poignancy that might have existed in non-comical moments is negligible. The humour didn’t hit the spot with everyone in the audience at the performance I attended, and it seemed to me the best way to enjoy proceedings was to simply give up on any comprehensive understanding of what was going on, accept the eccentricities and be taken on a rather wild journey.

Scenes in a beauty parlour provided some perceptible comedy, and I liked a moment when a life insurance policy was given to someone who, it was established in a later scene, was long dead (a satirical take, I think, on how unnecessary most insurance policies are). Even I couldn’t fail to have noticed Olive (Amy Newton) being unable to escape from the clutches of a metaphorical web spun by Madelaine. But I would have expected the production overall to be rather more interwoven than it came across – only in one fleeting scene (as far as I recall: goodness me, there are so many scenes) do the four main characters meet. A barmy and baffling production, it was, at least, never dull.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

Flycatcher is a darkly comic thriller, which follows a web-woven world, where no one is seen for who they really are:
Madelaine is an awkward waitress with a buried past.
Mae is a forgotten grandmother, who only wants some attention.
Bing is a happy-go-lucky salesman, wanting to spread the American dream.
Olive is a successful but emotionally distant art gallery owner,

These lives will come together when Madelaine tries to pull in Bing into her world. However, when Bing sets his sights on Olive, no one and nothing will stop Madelaine from luring any unsuspecting victims into her own psychological traps.

And so unfolds a complex and extraordinary series of events, all cunningly orchestrated by Madelaine and geared to, bit by bit, draw them all under the same roof. These schemes are at once hilarious and heart-breaking, but the closer they all become, the more each of their secrets emerge to cause the inevitable and catastrophic clash of identity.

flycatcher
written & directed by GREGG MASUAK
7 Nov – 2 Dec 2017
http://www.thehopetheatre.com/

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