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Off Broadway: Five Short Plays from the USA

Note: This review is from 2000

Review by Steve Bennett

This tapas bar of theatre offers five one-act comic vignettes from an ensemble cast.

And it's a challenging selection of scenes the East Dulwich Tavern company have chosen to tackle.

Most of the characters are absurd exaggerations, difficult to root in reality, and often the cast struggle with the task of making such grotesques connect with the audience.

The married couple in the opener are particularly unbelievable ­ until the punchline, that is ­ and it is difficult to emphasise with such obvious fakes.

Comedy Store player Stephen Frost has similar difficulties with his manically meandering monologue as terminally depressed author, though he just about pulls it off.

The play featuring a deranged middle-aged woman screaming obtusely at her son and daughter-in-all suffers most from its detachment and pretty much fails on all levels.

Two distinct highlights, though, are the sharp dialogue between dentist and patient ­ culminatings in a fantastic pay-off ­ and the emotionally-charged closing piece.

This tragedy interweaves two ill-fated romances, told simply by four talking heads.
It's here that the cast truly shine, producing a simply gripping piece of theatre, which also, sadly, serves to show up the weaker moments in the preceding dramatic quartet.

Review date: 1 Jan 2000
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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