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Excuses

Joel Joan and Jordi Sànchez
Soho Theatre
(2003)

It is an odd cultural fact that humour does not always travel well. There is a constant feeling while watching this black comedy that it would be so much better performed in Catalan by manic locals. That is not to say that director David Grindley does not get a good number of laughs from an English audience, especially with the physical comedy.

Excuses is rather like two very dark sitcoms containing the same four characters. It takes place in the tiny apartment of Matthew (Alistair Petrie) and Olivia (Doon MacKichan). He is an anally-retentive but hyperactive architect! She is a successful businesswoman.

They receive the tediously obnoxious Christian (Alexis Conran) whose interests run to sex, sex and, as an afterthought, money. Sadly, the sexual obsession doesn't stretch to his girlfriend, the name-dropping radio host, Suzanna (Robin Weaver).

The first act deals with contrasting attitudes to affairs. In these days of political correctness, it seems that a woman's affair can be dealt with sympathetically while a man doing the same thing is a rat. Probably a good thing too.

After a lengthy scene change, the action advances fifteen months. The home team are parents and the others have split up, Suzanna having made it to TV in LA.

Life isn't sweet. The happy parents want to kill the kiddy, the godfather can't remember its gender, let alone its name, and even the successful career woman isn't happy. It has to be said that if you want children and find that you are barren and stalked by Christian, suicide might be a good reaction.

All of this is woven into black comedy, veering into farce. It keeps up a good pace and features solid performances from all four cast members. Whether Excuses has that special something that would allow it to become a UK cult, as it was in Barcelona is more questionable.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher