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Because what the Net really needs is another person sharing his uninformed views
Theatre review: Fresh Meat 
9th-Jun-2010 10:24 pm
tragicomedavatar
DISCLAIMER, possibly - I can't tell from the website when they're letting the press in, but apparently this was only the second performance so I think it's safe to go on the assumption that this is a review of a preview.

I can't say that Fresh Meat jumped out at me as sounding promising, but it was written by a member of the OUT website, who messaged people on the site to publicise it. Since, if I ever get The Control Room (a) finished and (b) staged, I'm sure I'll also be begging OUTers to come and see it, I thought it was only fair to do unto others etc etc, and booked a ticket. A black comedy loosely inspired by the story, a few years ago, of the German cannibal who found a willing victim on the internet, Dylan Costello's play starts with Lenny, a 22-year-old gay man who wants to die but can't bring himself to commit suicide. The answer seems to come in the form of Alex and Theo, a couple who want to kill him and eat him.

I'm sure it's worse to be on stage in these situations but it's still not nice to be in an audience for a comedy when it's met with stony silence. You can tell where the jokes are, a lot of the time you can tell they should be funny, but the laughs don't come. Being in the front row I felt like I should be trying to look encouraging as the cast are likeable enough and put the effort in, and I'm not just saying that because Cerith Flinn, who plays Lenny, is a bit gorgeous

and has a very briefFULL-FRONTAL MALE NUDITY ALERT!He spends slightly longer giving us a rear view, which is also pleasing. And during one of the backside scenes you can see the a spotlight shining through his foreskin through his legs. Aw, see that mental imagery there, that was almost poetic, if poetic meant "disturbing and very wrong." Now where was I?

Some of the problems are endemic to the script, especially the characterisation - all the characters, especially John Shortell's Oscar, have entire personality transplants every time the story requires it. Lenny's death wish supposedly stems from feeling unloved ever since he was abandoned as a baby, but when not directly discussing this he has an unbridled optimism and lust for life that's even commented on in the dialogue. I can see that Costello's using the humans-as-meat idea as a metaphor for shallowness in gay life, but his timing in bringing some of these ideas to the fore is often haphazard. And then there's niggling little stuff, like the fact that Lenny and Theo bond over a shared love for Lady Gaga, which is treated as if it's an amazing concidence. Two gays, loving the Gaga? What are the odds? I thought if it had to be a gay icon that they had in common it could at least be someone who isn't quite so ubiquitous at the moment.

Some of the character stuff would probably not be so much of a problem if the production had the air of the surreal it's surely aiming for, and I wonder if having Manolis Emmanouel both direct and play Theo was overstretching him, as the pacing is very off. Luckily this is only the second performance so I'm sure the performances will tighten up, and there are some issues that could be dealt with (at the moment scene changes involve the actors waiting for ages on stage while the lights go down, then leaving, instead of going straight to the next scene which would stop things from flagging so often.) And one major issue is the sound - no sound designer is listed in the programme and it does indeed sound as if the effects were thrown together at the last minute. The cueing is very off as well but again more performances might sort this out.

I don't know why but I'm kinda willing this to get better; maybe it's because the cast seemed to have talent even if it wasn't being shown to its best effect. Some of the problems are too basic to be helped but at the very least if the pacing can be sped up from the word go, they'll get some of those missing laughs.

Fresh Meat by Dylan Costello is booking until the 4th of July at the Courtyard Theatre, Hoxton.
Comments 
10th-Jun-2010 10:30 am (UTC) - foreskin
Anonymous
"spotlight shining through his foreskin through his legs" This perfectly encapsulates why I read this blog. Nowhere else can one find this level of detail!
10th-Jun-2010 11:18 am (UTC) - Re: foreskin
It's important to have a USP.
11th-Jun-2010 04:07 pm (UTC) - Re: foreskin
Anonymous
I actualy watched this last night and really really enjoyed it!
11th-Jun-2010 07:37 pm (UTC) - Re: foreskin
That's good; did they get laughs?
14th-Jun-2010 07:23 am (UTC) - Re: foreskin
Anonymous
Yes! It was a full house and they were laughing non-stop. And the pace was great I thought, also I agree re the actors, they are all very talented and dedicated.
14th-Jun-2010 10:57 am (UTC) - Are you kidding
Anonymous
I have to say this is the worst play I have seen for a very long time and aside from the lead guy, the acting would not make it into a school play. I am a theatrical agent, so I see a lot. Trust me, anyone who has written something positive about this rubbish has got to be a member of the cast or a very close friend.
14th-Jun-2010 11:27 am (UTC) - Re: Are you kidding
Don't worry, I take anonymous comments that heap praise on questionable productions with a pinch of salt.

(Of course, the anonymous comment thing cuts both ways...)
14th-Jun-2010 06:57 pm (UTC) - Re: Are you kidding
Anonymous
I am neither part of the production nor a close friend and just read this thread, "worse play in ages" and "school production acting" would DEFINITELY not be the words I would use to describe it!
It's clearly a gay play ( I am straight myself so it wasn't exactly my cup of tea) so it will appeal more to gay men than the rest of us, but I still enjoyed it. I actually laughed a lot and thought all the actors did a great job. And when I went (last Friday), the audience seemed to really enjoy it too...
Marcus, Hoxton
19th-Jun-2010 02:13 pm (UTC) - Re: Are you kidding
Anonymous
I have to agree: the play is awful, and I think anyone who says otherwise is either a family/friend of the cast or has very, very low standards in theatre.

I thought the majority of the actors (except for Manolis Emmanuel who was completely unconvincing) did a good job to hold together one of the worst scripts I've ever seen performed. The plot was all over the place, riddled with tire old cliches and "jokes" that were painfully unfunny.

As a gay man, I actually felt offended that this type of play was meant to appeal to me. I'm honestly surprised it's had such a good response... Maybe gay people are as brainless, humourless and cock-obsessed as the writer seems to think we are.
20th-Jun-2010 10:59 am (UTC) - Re: Are you kidding
Anonymous
Wow...I watched Fresh Meat on Saturday night and I looked it up to see what people thought of it...it seems that it's a Love it or Hate it play!
So many contradicting opinions...Maybe it also depends on the night that people watched it?
My personal view is very positive. Yes, it's a tad silly and you can't take it seriously, but so what? It is fun, very dark and kept me entertained and interested throughout. The reactions they were getting were great, people were laughting lots and all my mates (went with 3 other guys-one of them organised it after seeing the ad in Attitude) enjoyed it too.
I thought the acting was brilliant, especially John Shortell and Manolis Emanouel-their comic timing is spot on.
The dance sequence unexpected and very original, people started clapping when it finished.
That said, I can see why it won't be everyone's taste-it's very out-there and silly at points, but that's not necessarily a bad thing . I would def reccommend it for a fun night out.

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