Brighton Fringe 2015
It’s the final performance in a top London theatre as the cast and crew prepare to embark on a six month US tour. The leading actors struggle through another night of their argument ridden off-stage relationship, whilst stage manager Jan wearily juggles a petulant ensemble cast, an anxiety plagued intern and prima donna Amy as the cracks begin to show and even the set is collapsing around them.
A London cast has earned a transfer to the big time in the United States. But will the climax to the run also unravel the relationship dynamics smouldering underneath? This is a romantic comedy from Deadpan Theatre – deadpan by name and by nature, at least for several of the characters in this comedy of interplay set in the London theatre world. The verbal knockabout that anchors many of the scenes supports a story with plenty to keep the audience engaged and amused.
I thoroughly enjoyed Changing Partners. The ensemble cast work very well together and their attention to detail is impressive. The whole cast are fully in role throughout and that is vital to create the believable rush of a back-stage dressing and green room. The set adds to the credibility and the pace, along with offstage (on stage in the scenario presented) sound effects all add to the story’s reality.
It is a very pacy, if occasionally hurried, production. A lot is packed in and there’s little time to absorb every line, which is a shame as the play is so well written and loaded with witty interplay, sideswipes and emotional reaction. I’d like to have seen just a bit of risk taking with silence which would have added a bit more nuance to the characters. The pace might result in information overload for some audiience members as the plot reveals more of itself towards the end.
This is a young, highly capable cast and the quality of the acting is a cut above many productions I see at the Fringe. Most play their parts highly naturalistically but one or two have opted for something more theatrical and this creates a bit of inconsistency. Sometimes we are laughing at mild caricature and that would be alright if the style of the piece was consistently designed with that as an intention. Work a bit more on the consistency, I’d suggest. The actors are all very good so I’d go with the high quality naturalism. That will take it all a notch even higher.
That said, this is a very good piece of theatre. In turns funny and touching, the actors deliver the script very accessible directness and a touching story comes through. What happens when we assume we have moved on, when really others are nursing still very raw wounds? At the heart of some very crisp and sharp, dark comedy line liners is a tender underscore. That’s what gives Changing Partners its recommendable quality.
We are treated to a story worth witnessing, delivered by a cast well worth watching.