Saturday, October 8, 2011

Terrible Advice is terribly underwhelming

There's something to be said about finding yourself in your 40's and wondering what the hell happened to your life. There's also something to be said about settling for someone just for the sake of saying that you have someone. These things are brought up in Saul Rubirek's play debut Terrible Advice at the Menier Chocolate Factory but are never fleshed out.

Let's first take a look at how this "dark, dirty and dangerous play" is being marketed - because what is advertised does not resemble anything I saw.

"Stanley (Stinky to his friends) and Jake are best friends. Hedda and Delila are best friends. Jake loves Hedda; Stinky loves Delila. Stinky plans to marry Delila….until Jake shares some secrets and then gives him some advice"

Um Stinky does not love Delila, in fact he's bangin' his pregnant ex and saying inappropriate things to his students. And all of a sudden he decides he wants children - something Delila can't give him.

As for Jake. He loves no one but himself. When Stinky comes to him with his "I want children and I can't stop fucking my pregnant ex and then sharing my sad pitiful life with my pretty female students" woes, Jake rightly advises that he break up with Delila. Probably the best advice Jake has ever given as he himself is a former baseball player turned alcoholic sex addicted prat. Did he sleep with his best friend's woman? Of course he did. Does anyone care? Not really.

Jake does not love Hedda - he's merely settling as he can't afford to continue being a womanizing ass. And in fairness the middle-aged no BS-taking Hedda is settling too. Jake must be amazing in bed. Now everyone is talking about this terrible advice as coming from some deep seated love - Jake is obviously in love with Delila and he tells Stinky to make a clean break so he can swoop in with his smarmy smarmness and achingly bad poetry. Because women love smarm. And bad poetry. But the truth is Jake is an idiot and is incapable of really loving anyone. So this storyline falls flat. Nothing is real. Only pretended.

Over all the direction from Frank Oz matches the sitcom-esque writing. Some of it is well conceived and some of it detracts from the story. It's also apparent that the Menier has access to a car slicer as a side of a car is rolled out onto stage where Hedda does the cleanest and easiest flat tire change I've ever seen. She should work for AAA.

I'm mostly disappointed in/for Sharon Horgan. She's talented, hilarious and beautiful and I will always love her show Pulling. She deserves a better role than this. And she also deserves a better dialect coach as her sexy Irish accent morphs into a confused American accent. I had some issues with the other Brit actors at points too, but I'll let it slide as the acting overall was well done.

Overall, the story is simply not interesting and I could care less about the characters. Although there are moments of genuine laughter and I think once there was a glimmer of tangible characters, I left the theatre empty.