Review: Cuttings

3 star rating
Topical and relevant, rich in issues and ably directed and performed, this play nonetheless lacks real satirical bite, leaving a sense of a lost opportunity in terms of comedy.
Cuttings at Hope Theatre

Image: Hope Theatre


Theatre: Hope Theatre

Closes here: Saturday 22 June 2019

Author:
Ollie George Clark

Director:
Rob Ellis

Cast:

Ruchi - Natasha Patel

Gracelyn - Joan Potter

Danica - Maisie Preston


And featuring the voices of:

Elliot Liburd

Beth Organ

Dene Horgan


Synopsis


"There's actually no such a thing as good publicity, there's just planned and unplanned, and this is very much the latter."


YouTuber turned actor Arthur Moses wins an Olivier Award, and moments later goes on to drunkenly deliver the most offensive, outrageous and profanity laden speech in the ceremony's history.


His publicists Gracelyn, Ruchi and Danica have quite a morning ahead of them.


They'll need to apologise on his behalf all whilst fielding calls, defusing social media, stamping out print, handling the talent, licking SOLT's wounds and if Arthur could stop posting on Instagram for a second that would be great.


Background


CUTTINGS is a satirical look at public perceptions, fandom and fame and what it means to be 'sorry' in the 21st Century.


Relish Theatre's previous work includes Unicorn (Theatre N16), A Matter Of Life And Debt (Edinburgh Fringe) and the podcast Theatre Feuds.


ActDrop reviews


Peter Brown

Performance date: Thursday 6 June 2019
Review star rating image

YouTube 'stars' don't always get a great press.


In some cases, that might be well-justified since some of their number have a habit of getting into scrapes, often by taking ill-conceived and ill-judged pranks to extremes.


In this impression of one man whose fame has been acquired from the video sharing platform, we find something different to a mere prankster gag gone awry.


Arthur Moses (whose surname apparently offers a touch of the exotic) has made the somewhat unlikely transfer to being a stage actor.


And, even more unlikely perhaps, he's managed to carry-off a gong at the prestigious Olivier Awards.


But due to the effects of free and freely-flowing champagne, Arthur managed to get himself completely plastered, and subsequently delivered a 'profanity-laden' acceptance speech, broadcast live on prime time TV, which has caused outrage.

Joan Potter as Gracelyn in Cuttings at the Hope Theatre

Joan Potter as Gracelyn - photo by Cam Harle


The onerous task of putting the genie back into the bottle, by explaining away Arthur's unseemly behaviour, falls to his PR agents, headed-up by Joan Potter's Gracelyn, who is assisted by helpful and intelligent adjutants Ruchi (Natasha Patel) and Maisie Preston's Danica.


In a neat touch that adds a sense of dramatic urgency, Cuttings plays out in real time thanks to a practical clock which ticks away the valuable minutes that the PR team have available to make their mark in saving Arthur's reputation - or, at least, in minimising the destructive impact of his drunken outpouring.


Topical and relevant, Cuttings might bring to mind real-life controversies involving stars sounding-off without considering consequences.


The case of Julian Clary at the British Comedy Awards back in the dim and distant past of 1993 immediately leapt back into my mind while watching this play - though Mr Clary's injudicious jest (involving the then-Chancellor Norman Lamont) was nevertheless extremely funny as one might expect from a man gifted in the double-entendre and inspirational impromptu wit.


In comparison, Arthur's alcohol-fuelled rant is rather tame - even if it's entirely realistic and thus believable.


Cuttings certainly highlights questions that matter - such as whether we employ obfuscation, deception and deflection to paper-over behaviour that is unacceptable, or whether we simply fess up to our failings as imperfect human beings.


I don't think I'm giving too much away here in saying that the PR team opt to deflect Arthur's self-inflicted social wound by casting the blame elsewhere and - as you may expect given the situation - by employing what amount to all but downright lies.


All that actually works well-enough, even if the outcome and tactics the team fall back on are eminently predictable.

Maisie Preston and Natasha Patel in Cuttings at the Hope Theatre

(From left) Maisie Preston as Danica and Natasha Patel as Ruchi - photo by Cam Harle


And commendable performance and directing skills are clearly evident throughout a piece that signalled enormous potential.


However, given the richness of the set-up, I expected rather more in terms of biting satirical wit.


As it stands, though, it raises only the occasional meagre titter rather than packing big laugh-out loud moments into the perfectly plausible scenario it describes, and leaving something of a sense of a lost opportunity in terms of comic outcome.



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