Howard Korders’ Pulitzer nominated Boys’ Life has transferred to The King’s Head Theatre following a sold out run at Etcetera Theatre earlier this year. Set and written in the eighties, this play follows three old college friends in New York as they develop their own coping mechanisms to help them to understand – or avoid – maturity and fidelity.
Despite being well cast, this play fails to truly capture the audience and transport them back to the “angsty” eighties. Wavering American accents and the continual string of scene changes detract from what could have been a beautiful and intriguing performance. Korder’s style is definitely more suited to screen acting but director Sebastien Blanc has unearthed a few golden moments that really shine in the intimate space of The King’s Head. Blanc’s extensive training in the Meisner Technique is undoubtedly applied to this performance. The main characters are natural and believable; their longstanding friendship feels sincere as they poke fun at each other’s traits and reminisce about past experiences.
Max Warrick as Jack has a wonderful energy. He emanates ‘cool’ with his backhanded comments and quips about women. He freely gives out advice to his friends based upon his conceited ideas of what it is to be a man (in the eighties). One can almost forget his flawed American accent but there are moments where it holds him back. Luke Trebilcock (Phil) wonderfully contrasts Jack’s laddish character. He has an endearing quality about him that helps him to capture Phil’s morose and often pathetic personality without becoming a caricature. The pair seem unlikely friends but it somehow works very well. The third main character is Don, played by Matthew Crowley with his deliciously low voice. He seems to be the missing link between the former two characters, awkwardly courting a waitress whilst trying to maintain some sense of male bravado. The female characters are rather underdeveloped and the text seems to contain a lot more humour than is depicted. For example, Lisa (Anna Brooks-Beckman) is portrayed as an overtly angst-ridden feminist. She seems to mistrust her boyfriend, Don, before he shows any hint of unfaithfulness. Abi Unwin-Smith makes a wonderful composed yet sarcastic Maggie, the only character who has the power to reveal Jack’s softer underside, but it is Charlotte Gascoyne who inadvertently steals the show as Don’s crazy fortune telling one-night-stand.
One Fell Swoop is a very talented young company. They do not show off their true potential here – or that of director Sebastien Blanc. Boys’ Life may have been Pulitzer nominated in the eighties but its content now seems outdated, making it slightly unrelatable. But it is worth remembering that it had a sold out run at the Etcetera Theatre and that must be for a reason.