Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Review: 'Faces In the Crowd' at the White Bear Theatre, 20th March 2018

Faces In The Crowd reviewed by David James
Rating: 2 Stars

Have you ever heard a blazing row emanating through apartment walls? Muffled yells in various pitches, punctuated by the grinding of furniture and slammed doors. All the while you pray you're not going to hear the leaden thump of a body hitting the floor. Leo Butler's 2008 play Faces In The Crowd takes us into just such a pressure-cooker: showing us an extremely unhappily married couple who spend 80 minutes tearing strips off one another.

Dave (Adam Bone) and Joanne (Bonnie Adair) got married on a teenage whim. For two people in love, the world was their oyster. But things rapidly curdled: easy credit and buy-now-pay-later deals left them sucked into a quicksand of monthly payments. Disillusioned with the incoming future of soul-crushing suburban drabness, Dave left a note on the mantlepiece and fled south to the bright lights of London, abandoning his wife, his family and a mountain of debt.

Ten years later, Dave is living in a studio flat off Old Street, got a job as a recruitment consultant, is nursing a casual coke habit, reads the Guardian and watches Question Time. His northern accent has faded and the past seems like a distant memory. But now a resentful Joanne is back. She doesn't want money, she doesn't even want an apology, she just wants a baby. And the least Dave can do after his abandonment is knock her up.

It's strange watching a play and feeling the most sympathy for a character who hasn't even been born. Both Dave and Joanne are extremely unlikeable characters: petty, small-minded, vain and obsessed with material possessions. They hate one another almost to the point of murder and any child with them as parents has a cast-iron destiny of fuck uppery waiting for them.

In fact, Dave and Joanne are so off-putting that even when they reveal (what is theoretically) their sympathetic sides later in the play it's just not enough to turn me around. What we essentially realise is that they might have been able to have a happy life together if their dreams hadn't been poisoned by consumerist fantasies, realised by unsustainable levels of personal debt. Characters decry easily available credit and falsely promised opportunities and are extremely bitter that the life they thought they were entitled to was an illusion.

Fair enough. But it doesn't stop them from also being complete twats. It makes me unsure how to judge Bone and Adair's performances; if the objective was to accentuate these characters' unattractive qualities then mission accomplished; if we're supposed to care about them then things have gone a bit awry.

Adair manages to create one of the more repellent, hateful characters I've seen in a play of late, nosing about and delivering a constant stream of small-mindedly pissy comments. Joanne's body language is reptilian, her eyes deadened and accusatory, she's got the sexual charisma of a brick wrapped in barbed wire. 

Bone's Dave is slightly more sympathetic, but only because he's so pathetic. He's scrabbling for the last vestiges of his youth: singing the praises of teenage bimbos sucking his cock ("they've got tits like meringues!"), showing off his big plasma TV ("I own that!") and bemoaning that his infantile fantasies of being a rock star never came to pass ("if only I could play a few chords!").

Their complete twattishness makes it difficult to care, which in turn makes spending 80 minutes with them tedious. If you buy into the assertion that macroeconomics has made them the horrible people they are, there might be a kernel of interest. If not (and some of the financial concerns of the play feel a bit dated ten years on) then you're just left with unhappy pricks wallowing in the detritus of their broken lives.

And if I really wanted to see that kind of thing, I'd just switch on Jeremy Kyle.

Faces in the Crowd is at the White Bear until 31st March. Tickets here.

Tags: , , , , ,

0 Responses to “Review: 'Faces In the Crowd' at the White Bear Theatre, 20th March 2018”

Post a Comment

© All articles copyright LONDON CITY NIGHTS.
Designed by SpicyTricks, modified by LondonCityNights