REVIEW: UNDEREXPOSED (The Old Red Lion Theatre)

UNDEREXPOSED entails a series of 9 short plays that are framed by the idea of exploring and challenging existing stereotypes, which do not get as much attention because they are not quite as crass as those that do. We all have preconceived ideas about certain groups of people, thinking that they tend to have certain characteristics.

UNDEREXPOSED explores this premise from many different perspectives starting off with ‘Native Tongues’ written and directed by Nick Myles, which takes us to a unisex gym where former couple Oli (Nick Skaugen) and Jen (Charlotte Nice) exercise together. After some bickering, they suddenly find themselves in different times and places – Oli in a stone-age forest, Jen in a desert, many thousands of years from now – although they are still able to communicate with each other. A very funny and entertaining story as Oli gets into the spirit of being a caveman and Jen submits to a spiritual life.

‘The Revolution Will Not Be Grammatically Correct’ by Mike Carter, directed by Kathleen Douglas, is a monologue by Lottie (Carole Street) a rather posh activist who finds herself protesting, together with a working class bloke named Spike and a pink-haired punk, fighting against a common enemy. This play felt a bit longish. ‘Bonus of Contention’ by Gabrielle Curtis, directed by Gary Beadle, is about a couple who is trying to end their relationship on a civil note. Kara (Gabrielle Curtis) and Seb (Connor Mills) laugh about the situation, calling themselves Breakup Person A and B, but can a breakup be as civil as they think? A funny play but it also went on somewhat too long.

The Goblin King by Daisy Jo Lucas, directed by Jo Greaves, has a promising start: Daphne (Stephanie Toghill), a high powered lawyer, is expecting a baby, more because her partner Richard (DeVon Jackson) wants one. She has tried to fit in a caesarean into her busy schedule, there is no time for a natural birth, but she still has second thoughts. The Goblin King (Danny Steele) and Clara (Emily Bell) might be able to help. I liked it up to the point where the Goblin King appears, not because Danny Steele’s performance was unconvincing, but the story did not need a gimmick.

After the interval, the tone of the plays changed, starting off with ‘Bones’ by Kaethe Cherney, directed by Peter Bradley, which takes us into a gift shop in the U.S. Clara (Amy Quick) encounters a difficult customer named Dom (Nick Pearse) who is more interested in her, than in her sales items. Clara is very reluctant to let Dom get closer at first as she has a painful secret. This is one of the best plays of the evening with intriguing characters and touching on a sensitive subject – how to deal with euthanasia.

‘A Meaningful (Albeit Brief) Encounter’ by Gabrielle Curtis is just a snippet of a play featuring Katya, an editor of “OK Magazine”, and Amy (Gabrielle Curtis), who is trying to sell her encounter with a celebrity to the glossy magazine. The short sketch was followed by another play by Nick Myles, the impressive ‘London – Damascus’, also directed by Nick Myles, about an online romance between Adam (Freddie Wintrip), a young Englishman, and Ahmed (Reece Mahdi), a Syrian. Having been the victim of a scam before, Adam is a bit wary at first, which is not improved by Ahmed’s caution – homosexuality is a death sentence in certain countries. This is a fine play with well written characters about a budding romance between two men from different cultures.

‘C’etait Ouf’, written and directed by Laurence Vardaxoglou, is a very funny and true monologue by a Commuter (Sophia Flohr) who works in a digital agency, which she describes as “a mind numbing dull job”, the type that most of us have in order to pay the bills. The gist of her talk is her encounter with a blind busker which made her realise how she “drowned prematurely in mediocrity”. This certainly pushed a few buttons.

The elaborate set, consisting of the interior of a fake ship with a number of portholes, was really designed for the final play of the evening – ‘The Artistically Protected Right To Over-React’ by Gabrielle Curtis, directed by Jonathon Carr. Tabitha (Gabrielle Curtis) has a blind date with Matt (Ryan Wichert), who works in an office but is surprisingly interesting. Things have been going well when Tabitha suddenly espies her former boyfriend with another woman. Her attention is completely taken up by her ex, she is ignoring Matt and ready to make a scene. She thinks that this is her prerogative as she is the artistic type but things are not always what they seem. This hilarious play was perfect to conclude the evening.

The cast was very good throughout and presented some very good new writing. Sadly, some of the plays were not quite so good.

Reviewed by: Carolin Kopplin

Underexposed is playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre on Sundays and Mondays only until 9th May