A slightly confused, but entertaining drama, about a stag party in Iceland gone awry, mixed with a hearty dose of Norse mythology. A sparse set was well imagined, with the hot tub (complete with a water bucket and smoke machine) being particularly effective.
Devised by a theatrical all-star team of Will Adamsdale (creator of the Perrier Award-winning Jackson’s Way), Neil Haigh (Cartoon de Salvo) John Wright (co-founder of Told By An Idiot and Trestle) and Matthew Steer (Britain’s Best Mates). The Summer House got off to an intriguing start. Tiny models and some endearingly lo-fi special effects represented the arrival of a car containing three men on a stag party to a lakeside lodge outside Reykjavik.
At first it seems that the audience are in store for some good humoured male bonding, between Will, Matt and Neil, but these expectations are quickly derailed as two very important questions are raised… Who does this house belong? And who is Neil? Mystery comes thick and fast as the stag party spirals into absurdity all interspersed with comical retelling of Norse mythology.
The Summer House depicted three marvellous comic performers, particularly showcasing their ability to precisely realise the interior of the minimalist lake side house in the minds of the audience. Yet this skill didn’t fully distract from what I perceived as issues within the piece. The use of Norse mythology as an analogy for the exploits of the three modern men, didn’t hang together and lle to some head scratching moments. In a similar vein, whilst the characters felt well drawn individually, the relationships between them felt slightly hazy and left me wanting more, this was particularly evident between Will and his belittled best man Matt. In a show that shows an at first ‘normal’ situation descending into madness, the establishment of the key relationships between characters is so important in making the audience care and The Summer House wasn’t entirely successful on this front.
Overall this was an excellently performed show combined with some truly ingenious moments with the cast beautifully animating Michael Vale’s design, yet for me it lacked the cohesion to provide a truly engrossing audience experience.