Man Bun Stockwell

Never Trust a Man Bun at Stockwell Playhouse | Review

After a hard day at the sharp end of retail management, Lucy (the writer Thomas herself) just wanted a quiet night of Gogglebox with Gus (Calum Robshaw), her longstanding flatmate and wingman. But the pompous and anal twerp has not only reconciled with his nauseating ex, the simpering snowflake Rachael (Natasha Grace Hutt), but the pair of them have conspired to set Lucy up with a date.

A wisecracking bitch with a heart of flint, Lucy is furious but has little time to eviscerate Rachael and Gus, before the arrival of a dude with ‘tude and a comedy man bun, the sleazy Caps (Jack Forsyth Noble). And very quickly we are drawn into the archetypal house party, set in a lounge, with doors off to kitchen and bedroom.

There are some sparkling performances by a talented cast, well-drilled by director Scott Le Crass. The laughs come thick and fast in the first twenty minutes, as the farcical stereotypes devour comedy snacks (‘Crisps and Pretzels, like, I know. Amazing!’), and rattle through smartly written situational humour.

As the evening collapses, despite the best efforts of the well-meaning Rachael, hidden agendas and vulnerabilities are hinted at. No one is quite what they seem. But these promising themes are never fully explored, as instead, we set up for the next gag.

And therein lies a problem. The play would make a great sitcom. Notionally told in real time, but in fact a series of well-defined comic episodes, the work is cruelly funny but doesn’t ever get going as a drama. There is no time or space left to develop an uber-plot.

Like binge watching Friends with a hangover, so bad you don’t wince at the dated jokes. It washes over you, it does not challenge or engage. Thomas shoehorns gags into every crevice of the work, and whilst they’re mostly really great (some of them are over the line), they don’t mask the weakness of the plot.

Whilst we’re told that Lucy is damaged, we’re never really shown anything other than hints of why she is so isolated. Is she shallow and self-absorbed or a victim of hard choices and bad outcomes? Why is the Lucy character saying such eye-wateringly offensive things?

Bags of charisma from Thomas, who owns the stage, casting directors should seek her out for her performance alone. A promising debut from a writer to keep an eye open for.

Could Thomas be the next Phoebe Waller-Bridge? Maybe, it would be worth checking out her next show to find out. But, for now, this show is less than the sum of its considerable parts.

3 stars

Review by Laura Thomas

24-year-old Lucy’s idea of a good night is binge-watching Goggle Box, eating leftover bolognese and mocking the contestants on talent shows with her flatmate Gus. So, when Lucy gets back from work one night, only to find that Gus has gotten back together with his ditsy ex-girlfriend Rachael and that they have decided to hold a double date that night, Lucy is far from pleased. However, what she doesn’t expect is her hot date is coming in with a game plan, one which surely cannot end well. Katherine Thomas’ professional writing debut is a dramatic, dry comedy with hidden motives and self-destruction.

Creative Team:
Producer- Chidell Productions
Director- Scott Le Crass
Writer- Katherine Thomas
PR – Jamie Eastlake

Calum Robshaw
Jack Forsyth-Noble
Katherine Thomas
Natasha Grace Hutt

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