Rating *** The Thing About Men is a show that had a lot of good things going for it. There was a whacky yet endearingly sweet premise, a repertoire of good songs, and some comic moments which do genuinely have you reaching for the tissues. That said; the talent shown by the three main characters …
The Thing About Men is a show that had a lot of good things going for it. There was a whacky yet endearingly sweet premise, a repertoire of good songs, and some comic moments which do genuinely have you reaching for the tissues. That said; the talent shown by the three main characters is decidedly lacklustre, which is a tragedy since you can see them all working so hard to deliver a better-than-average entertaining show.
The story behind the show is the stuff of West End gold – with an unfaithful husband, Tom, leaving his wife after he discovers her infidelity, and subsequently goes on to move in with his wife’s lover, Sebastian. The majority of the humour in the show comes from Tom trying to maintain his new double life, as he goes on a passive-aggressive campaign to destroy his new roommate. The narrative is then flipped on its head as both men form an unlikely bond of friendship which leads to Tom to doubt what he wants to accomplish anymore. It plays like a classic screwball-comedy and the actors have a lot of energy to carry this off. Unfortunately, the screwball elements begin to fall flat near the second half and fail to produce more than a titter from an audience – who appear to feel bored from what feels like the same joke over and over again.
The acting skills on hand are good, and manage to make you empaphise with their plights – from Sebastian’s desire for freedom to Tom’s hunger for revenge. The problem is that none of the characters feel particularly well rounded and lack any complexity; which makes their eventual paradigm shifts feel forced and therefore lack satisfactory conclusions. We should provide praise for Steven Webb and Lucyelle Cliffe, who play a variety of weird and wonderful characters that fill up the ensemble – managing to carry a tremendous amount of the comedy and energy between them. It’s fair to say that we found ourselves not looking forward to the main trio, but to these two great young players who helped save the show from becoming too much of a dirge.
The songs at the beginning of the show were amazing, and provided more hilarity than some of the spoken dialogue. For their part, the cast were accomplished at pulling of the big numbers in this little theatre. That being said, there are some cast members who appear to have forgotten that volume is not a substitute for quality – as they bellowed out their notes and caused us to squirm in our seats. In fairness, the quality of the music was hindered by the fact that it felt like the orchestra and vocalists seemed to be fighting to make themselves heard over each other. This led to some unpleasant moments where you could not hear the lyrics for the backing music, or the actors felt compelled to shriek their notes rather than sing them with elegance.
There is a lot to love about this show, and the cast are pretty good at pulling the audience along with the action. However, we could not help but feel that The Thing About Men needed a little more polish to make it a memorable fan favorite.
The Thing About Men is playing at the Landor Theatre until 9 June 2012