Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Last Chair - Northern Elastic Theatre Co, 24/7 Festival Manchester

The Last Chair
Writer & Director: Ian Townsend
Reviewer: John Roberts

I want to open the review with a quote from the play itself “there were no seats left for this mediocre play, with no big names and very little talent.” Unfortunately for this show thats the only thing that made me laugh as it summed up my whole experience of this production.

I am a huge fan of surrealist comedy, Ionesco has a permanent place in my heart as a master of comic genius, and if you are going to produce a piece of surreal comedy then you need to submerge yourself in as much research in the area as possible but Ian Townsends writing falls miserable short of the mark.

Taking the idea of the last chair in the world and two people, who should have the chair? Should they share it? Take turns? How long should they each take? Where should the chair be placed in the unknown place? To be honest I really didn’t care as the whole premise has the feel of a very bad thirty second sketch on a bad television comedy that’s been stretched out further than Rick Waller’s Waist Line.

Ian Townsend has also directed the piece and one must raise a few questions the first, why play your leads as upper class, what relation does this have to the piece other than to annoy the living hell out of your audience? Karl Lucas & Hayley Fairclough seemed to be enjoying every moment of their high pitched squeals of delight throughout, but their performances left little more than the feeling I was watching a very bad Am-Dram from Alderly Edge.

I guess the most absurd thing about Townsend’s production is trying to understand why this play actually got picked for the 24:7 Festival.
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