Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Terrible Advice: Scott Bakula Takes Off His Shirt

The very best thing about Terrible Advice at the Menier Chocolate Factory is that Scott Bakula takes off his shirt.  Thankfully it is the opening scene but it is all downhill from there.

Scott Bakula actually gives an interesting performance that seemed very similar to character he plays in Men of a Certain Age.  He's supposed to be the sex object in the show so they play up the shirtless scene.  But unlike MOACA, where his character is knocked down a lot by life, here he is skating by on looks and the generosity of his girlfriend without having to deal with the consequences of that.

I guess it was supposed to be a "sexy" "comedy" but it was neither sexy nor funny.  Basically two wholly unlikeable guys are best friends and often give terrible advice to each other about relationships.  They are dating relatively unlikeable women. I had read reviews that said it was sit-com material but this was raunchy sit-com material without laughs.  Really there is no greater crime in my book of theatrical criminal acts than a comedy without laughs (that's probably a lie...I bet there are a lot of major crimes in my book of theatrical criminal acts...)

I cannot blame the actors in the show.  They were all doing the best they could with awful material.  Also high marks to the UK cast for their American accents which did not slip and were not distracting.  However, this is the type of show that makes me wonder what drew the actors in in the first place.

The first Act was an utter disaster.  If the theater was not so small and intimate and if I wouldn't have had to run across the middle of the stage to do so I probably would have left.  The second Act improved some because the characters were finally forced to deal with their bad choices and the consequences of their actions.  The final scene in fact was quite touching and gave some nuance to the two male leads.  But it was a long road to get there.  I would have liked to have seen any glimmer of this humanity in the characters at some point before this.

Caroline Quentin was a stand-out.  She gives a very ballsy, funny performance and with a show lacking in laughs it was a welcome relief.  I credit the laughs to her performance than from any of the lines she had to deliver.  

I had wanted to see a show at the Menier and it was a great place for a show.  You are very close to the stage and I cannot imagine how shows like La Cage and Sunday in the Park with George started out in this tiny venue.  I really wish Pippin was playing now and not this play but...you can't always get what you want.

Suffice to say, I will look out for these actors in other stage material but I do not expect this play to transfer to the US.


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