Brighton Fringe 2012
Jimi, Janis, Jim, Kurt, Amy Winehouse… Forever 27: An exclusive club for the brightest stars. But even if you’re not rich and famous, everyone wants to be remembered for something! Forever 27; A one man, dark comedy with life, love and lust of an extraordinary gay man, in an average, straight world living by the motto ‘Live fast, die young’
The Old Court room is rather unforgiving to companies unable to completely transform the performance space from what it is, without large sets, flats and backdrops. However ‘Forever 27’ tried its best with a mirror, a desk, three chairs, a bed and a stool.
I wish I could say I was transported into this poor guy’s life. For now, not so much.
A simple set, gives itself well to movement, changing of scenes and setting up is easy enough. A couple of trap falls come with this kind of staging.
Conviction in movement and precision of placing objects as well as the temptation to fidget when setting a scene become apparent in open space with unforgiving lighting and glitch sound cues.
The actor playing Carl could well have carried the play through his own physical and vocal performance. The props were just a distraction to him and the audience at times.
I instantly loved the performer (unfortunately, his name not credited anywhere), this quirky, (stereotypically) camp man. Tall, long limbed and wide eyed. He reminded me of a ‘Carry On‘ character mixed with Michale Crawfords ‘Some mothers Do have ’em’.
‘Carl’ has honesty, believability in what he is explaining. I want to like him, I did like him. What he stands for and I wanted to follow him on his slightly deluded and un-thought out plans.
Caught off guard by the hilarious comic timing (once he relaxed into the part) I certainly had a chuckle. The kind you get when you are distracted mid laugh by something else and you don’t want to distract anyone else. That kind of laugh and I was not the only one.
Sometimes, the humour was a little predictable and (occasionally) disappointing because it seemed the writer had taken an easy way to lighten moments with stereotyping the ‘gay guy’ and giving him overtly camp gestures.
The highlight along with the powerful end moment was Carl describing how he will make the object of his affection ‘fall for him’. Simple, like in an old Film Noir style, he will face away and cry, not little tears. Big tears.
Talking to the audience for ninety percent of the time, it was like a re- enactment of what happened. Some of the directorial choices left me feeling a little uncomfortable and didn’t sit well with me. Such as the use of oddly placed physical theatre and mime.
Only in the smallest of moments was it used, it just seemed a way to act as a transition from being dragged through the tube to the next part of the story. It could well have been told to us without the use of mime. In a play full of set bits and props and no other mime/physical theatre – it was a fleeting moment. Had I not been writing a review about the piece I would have forgotten about these moments.
My main gripe of the piece, technically. Is the use of the phone to introduce the dithering mother, bless her she is trying to contact carl but for one reason or another he is avoiding her. These moments were endearing at times, but unfortunately the (comical) rule of three does not applies here. The moments dragged on a little too long and the mother deleting the voice mails over and over became a little tiresome and slightly awkward, watching Carl fidgets whilst waiting.
She struggles with the saving of the voicemail over and over.
This is however ultimately rectified in the powerful and heart breaking moment at the end when she finally gets it right and is probably the one time she doesn’t want the call to end.
Forever 27 is an endearing piece of writing, wonderfully acted when settled into the part and gives the audience a heartfelt insight into a young man struggling to find both the love and purpose in his life.
With a little bit of polishing and tweaks in the staging and venue choice I would recommend this sweet, funny and at times sad play.