A development production billed as a comedy, but more accurately a farce with absurdist overtones, by two alumnae of the Soho Young Writer’s Programme. Best described as a contemporary reboot of ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ written by Lena Dunham. Eddie and Patsy: The early years, reimagined as cliched millennials. Set in the editorial office of a tacky lifestyle magazine, the pair are seeking coke-fuelled, effort free, shortcuts to success.
The characters are intentionally one-dimensional, painted as caricatures with bold and bright strokes. Their milieu is primary coloured, flat and brilliantly lit, like a cartoon. Mimi (Knight) is bustling and controlling, full of false confidence and bogus cool, and Niamh (Hoey channelling Kat Denning), is amoral and scatty. Both start off as shallow and unlikeable, cheat, lie, get found out, and end up shallow and unlikeable. As a drama, this is feather light.
The play is interspersed with video interviews from real millennials, who present as a thoughtful and optimistic generation, rueful at the cards that they have been deal by the baby boomers; yet generous, pragmatic and capable. But the necessity of these enjoyable vignettes is unclear.
The videos of social media exchanges also work well, and a recorded song by Knight claiming victimhood was particularly funny, she comes across well on screen. The video trailer for the work was also excellent, the joke being that it had no connection to the play, apart from the presence of the two principals.
Both Knight and Hoey doubled as other characters. Knight was excellent as the abrasive editor Maggie, and Hoey gave a convincingly OTT performance as the fading thespian, Bronwyn. Robert Mountford made the best of some limited material as Robert Nye (no obvious connection with the poet), the disembodied voice of the patriarchy. He was convincingly shallow and controlling, and the concept, satirising Charlies Angels, is a good one, but the capacity for danger in the relationship between him and the two women was not fully explored.
And these bright spots were not enough to carry the performance which, lacking comedic tension and a proper plot, sagged. As a pilot for a sitcom, it had its good points. As the premise for a stand-up act or comic revue, it had a germ of promise. The duo would benefit from grinding in some chemistry and timing on the stand-up circuit.
As a play it may have been a mistake to cast themselves, spending time with actors in workshop might give them a clearer view of what their story is, and why it is important. At present, it is a jumble of ideas all mashed together.
Worth checking out as a preview piece by two capable and talented creatives, who have missed the mark on this occasion.
Review by Laura Thomas
There comes a point when giving up on your dreams may not be the worst thing in the world.
It’s Not Cute Anymore pits the consequences of pursuing your dreams against the dignity of just giving up. It explores desperation, rejection, and misplaced entitlement. With animation, interviews, and filmed flashbacks, this vulgar comedy blurs the line between theatre and TV.
Mum Brigade in association with Theatre503 present
IT’S NOT CUTE ANYMORE
Written and performed by Bel Knight and Claire Hoey
Directed by Tristan Schumacher