Mate by Feargus Woods Dunlop and Josh Golga
Reviewer: Honour Bayes
Feargus Woods Dunlop, Joshua Golga and Andrew Dawson are working their socks off to get a laugh out of a fairly quiet audience. Stuck with appalling timing and armed with nothing but an incredibly patchy script and only the remnants of some derivative humour, these laughs are understandably few and far between – but bless them, at least they’re trying.
Based around the story of two flatmates, Will and Toni, and their interloper friend, Wesley, Mate is like every bad BBC sitcom ever made, with an added twist of the completely incomprehensible loopy. We are not talking loopy in the Python sense, or Mighty Boosh style loopy, no this is the kind of loopy where one is actually left wondering what on earth these performers are doing (sometimes to disturbing lengths), and more importantly why. Faced with such ponderings the impulse to laugh does come occasionally, but not for the right reasons and sadly this confusing and frankly messy plotting covers the few moments when this company actually have the potential to be amusing.
The cast (this was the first night so in all fairness they will probably loosen up much more as the run progresses), starting off on the wrong foot, hop frantically along for the remaining 89mins in performances which constantly hit the wrong note, yo-yoing between massive gaps of silence (presumably meant to be filled with laughter?) or garbled monologues.
The one wacky ray of sunshine is Dawson’s disquieting but somehow adorable portrayal of Wesley. Although clearly robbed from Rhys Ifans’ nightmare flatmate in Richard Curtis’ Notting Hill, Dawson’s comic timing is for the most part down to a tee and this, combined with his smooth nonchalance, manages to raise some of the only laughs of the evening. And herein lies the answer to why this piece fails; Dunlop and Golga simply seem to be trying too hard and no audience wants to see the hint of desperation in a comedian’s eye.
A mish mash of direct audience address, time jumping, random fishing reports, a kidnapping and a case of mistaken cancer, Mate really doesn’t make sense and more importantly it’s not very funny. Maybe if the cast slow down slightly and at least look as though they’re enjoying it then the fraught cloud haunting this performance will ease and the charm that they seem capable of will shine through. As it is all you’re in for is a very befuddling and sadly serious evening.
Running at The White Bear Theatre Club till Sat 16th May 2009