Matt Byrne Media. Holden Street Theatres. 4 Oct 2017
Men Behaving Badly. British ‘90s comedy sitcom. You may have heard of it. Two politically incorrect blokes ‘lad’ their way through life, dragging long suffering girlfriends along for the ride. You may have seen a few episodes. Or you’d be a huge fan, own the complete series DVD collected box set and binge watch it alone with beer ‘n’ chips on sad lonely weekends.
Director Matt Byrne took on the quixotic challenge of staging four ‘episodes’ of writer Simon Nye’s series, with a video style intro per episode enhancing the televisual origins of the writing and characters.
The result is strange, but intriguing.
Rohan Watts as Gary and Brendan Cooney as Tony are a sharp, well paired set of characterisations. They, and the whole cast, rip along with exquisite comic timing. Watts’ Gary is a technically perfect all out loud and lubricous lad about town with bizarrely, a steady job. Cooney’s Tony matches up with an equally excellent loose and laid back support performance, exhibiting a generous but restrained dose of 70s easy going spirit with a whiff of the 60s.
Partnering the lads, Georgia Stockham as Gary’s girl Dorothy and Cheryl Douglas as Tony’s girl Deborah match Watts and Cooney for excellence. Stockham’s a fabulous take no prisoners performer, while Douglas offers a more demure, laid back, considered characterisation.
Boys will be boys, girls get their revenge and all’s well with a solid set of laughs to be had. Writer Nye’s 90s England is one confused place for a lad, and he plays that up fully.
Byrne’s production is an incredibly busy one. The action jumps from one room to another. Stage hands are constantly hard at work transforming the space into Gary’s bedroom, lounge to Tony’s bedroom, to Deborah’s bedroom, flat and then there’s the Crown Hotel. This doesn’t detract too much from the performance. Byrnes’s focus on trying to emulate the speed and sensibility of the shot to shot nature of television, ambitious as it is, it just manages to stay on the right side of the audience.
It is a strange production, referencing a host of comic traditions and styles from the Carry On films onwards with a dash of vaudeville thrown in. The material is of its time, past the use by date culturally but nonetheless on its surface a worthy workout for actors wanting to push their technical skills to the limit.
When: 3 to 21 Oct
Where: Holden Street Theatres, The Studio
Bookings: Holden Street Theatres 8262 4906