Written by Katherine Thomas
Directed by Katie Turner
Lucy is looking forward to a perfect night of watching Googlebox, eating left overs and spending time with her housemate, friend and someone she cares for more than she cares to admit- Gus. Gus is looking forward to seeing his beautiful on-and-off girlfriend Rachel, who he’s just got back with and has invited round for dinner. Rachel is looking forward to seeing Caps again and setting him up with Lucy. Caps- with the sexy man bun has other ideas… One night, one box of wine and a double date- what could go wrong?
Turns out a lot. Never Trust a Man Bun by Katherine Thomas is brought to us by theatre company: OPIA after their previous show ‘Unnatural Selection’ which was co-written by Thomas and received high praise from critics and audiences. Thomas writes dialogue with ease and lines that pack a giggle and a punch just as easily. For example: after a squabble among the characters about who has to (against their desires) be partnered with Lucy for the game of charades, she shouts “does it matter who goes with who, you don’t have to shag the person!” It is this quick wit and funny one liners that Thomas does best and that keep the audience engaged and laughing throughout the play. Despite the play’s wit, it still also asks questions: Is it possible to love more than one person at the same time? Why do we love someone if they don’t love us back? How do we choose our partners a more importantly why? Going forward these big and exciting questions along with the other central questions to this piece could be explored further and not lost sight of in expense for the quick banter, the story arc could be looked over to make sure it keeps driving to the end and ensuring that this questions are fully answered so the audience can feel really the punch at the end.
The performances from this piece are solid from a strong cast made up of four actors which includes the writer of the piece who plays Lucy. It is immediately apparent that they are all well rehearsed and have all made clear, bold character choices. Their energy and comic timing is great and consistent throughout the piece. The stand out performance though is from Calum Robshaw, who’s character has real depth. He plays the awkward and slightly desperate Gus. At the beginning of the play you laugh with and admittedly at him, as he shows off his over priced and some what lame apron, by the end of the play you feel great empathy for him. His impressive comic delivery mixed with his ability to be present and truthful make for a great and moving performance.
The director Turner offers sharp, comedic direction in this fast paced dry comedy. She could afford to explore the subtext of the piece in more depth with the actors as this is where most of the drama stems from. Though I am not certain that this piece of theatre would entirely pass the ‘Bechdel Test’ it does explore dynamics between couples well enough. My only reservation was ditsy Rachel played by talented actor Natasha Grace Hutt, she keeps telling us she’s not stupid while making a fool of herself. In the play she seems to only be referred to as either an idiot, a ‘slag’ or beautiful and though this female stereotype gets laughs, it might be more exciting to see another more complex, human and compelling side to the character. That said, the rest of the audience didn’t mind as they laughed heartily throughout this dark comedy. If you missed this sell out show, fancy some fringe theatre and a good laugh you might be in luck, the show is transferring to Bread and Roses for The Clapham Fringe.
Lucy played by Katherine Thomas
Gus played by Calum Robshaw
Caps by Jack Noble
Rachel played by Natasha Grace Hutt