Self Help

Anita Gallo
Siege Perilous
The GRV, Edinburgh
(2009)

Publicity image

The Siege Perilous ensemble perform with great energy and prove themselves a strong team, if the comedy itself is rather limp.

A single woman in search of a man through the help of a rather dubious dating agency is a rather dated idea for a comedy; the real problem is that it never really goes far enough and has a rather weak conclusion. The plot aside, the piece works wel:, it is snappy, the cast are sharp and avoid making characters such as the gay best friend too clichéd.

The show is at its best in the transitions between scenes, not that the comedy of the scenes failed, but the cast just have fun with the banter between them. The energy is also kept up by the fact that all four cast members are constantly involved, even when not the scene's focus.

There is some interaction with the audience, which works fine, but it would be better to have a little more rather than just a one-off. The whole self-help manual on how to get a man has plenty more possibilities for using the audience.

The piece in general would probably be improved by going a little further, a little more courage in places. The way sex is talked about seems almost immature, school yard giggles. Perhaps taking the "sex sells" idea and running a little further would make it a stronger comedy.

The characters are well conceived, wide-eyed Victoria (Lori McLean) is the Everywoman on a seemingly simple quest for a bloke. In this quest she encounters Nan (Ann Kane Howie) the waspish head of a scam dating agency, Bill (Ian Sexon), Nan's rent-a-date and Steve (Paul Comrie) café manager.

Some of Nan's dodgy scams aren't that believable and are rather annoying, but aside from that the characters were very real, especially the lazy but lovable Bill making his living as the dating agencies only real male member.

Indeed, while the quirky transitions were fun, the piece works well when the characters scratch beneath the surface and have real conversations. The actors, while energetic, were able to slow the pace for these thoughtful chats.

While there were some great exchanges the piece as a comedy failed in that it didn't build up to much of a climax. A comedy about dating and sex, which was in the end just foreplay, well performed energetic foreplay, but still just foreplay.

Reviewer: Seth Ewin