Waiting for Gateaux

Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood
Customs House, South Shields
(2005)

Rehearsal photograph

We started writing together in 2002 because of the lack of laughs in "comedy" shows on stage, screen, radio and TV.

So authors Waugh and Wood write in the programme for Waiting for Gateaux. It's their fourth play at the Customs House and, it has to be said, the weakest. It is written to the same formula as the others: choose a situation (preferably odd), think of all the jokes that go with it, populate it with stereotypical characters, wrap it in a weak plot and Robert is your father's brother.

There are some good jokes but most are predictable and many are laboured and telegraphed from a fair distance away. They say in their programme note that, as far as they are concerned, the first law of comedy is "make it funny", but that is a vast oversimplification. Comedy requires much more than that: it requires real characters to whom we can relate and not "funny" people, and situations which are real and not set up to get a laugh but from which the laughs arise naturally.

Waiting for Gateaux is set in a sort of slimming club, where the members are not really interested in losing weight at all but are there for the social side. There is one man, who is (of course) weak and ineffectual (he's made a New Year's resolution to be more assertive "if that's all right with you"); the leader is the largest and is obsessed by chocolate; a third member has a husband who is having an affair (which is perfectly obvious to the audience almost from her first words but she doesn't realise it until it hits her in the face), and the fourth is her sister, a Goth, whose attitude swings from Goth to normal and back, occasionally in the same speech! Oh yes, and it turns out that the sister is really her mother. Into this comes the hard-headed female yuppie, set to con them all. There's a blizzard which snows them in overnight and a power cut.

The cast work their socks off: with a less able cast, indeed, this would have been a bit of a disaster. As it was, the word "disappointing" was being bandied about by members of the audience afterwards. To be honest, this is church hall amateur society fare which, but for the odd use of the F word, could have been written at any time in the last forty years.

Reviewer: Peter Lathan