Together We're Heavy

Chris Purnell
A Canuk Theatre Company production
Cock Tavern Theatre, Kilburn

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It's always a shame when things don't live up to their potential and Together We're Heavy is brimming with it. This apparent romantic comedy suffers from a script that never goes beyond the surface and, staged in a space too small to house it, never becomes the play it could have been.

Rob's life isn't going too well. Slightly overweight and still living at home with his mum, the 25 year old has no girlfriend, works in a dead end job and was recently asked to leave his tap dancing class because he cannot dance.

He is secretly in love with Lorraine next door, but she is engaged to Walter - her arrogant boyfriend who likes to play away. Then Gary enters his life and with promises to make Rob slimmer and thus more attractive. The two become inseparable but can Gary really be trusted and where did the mysterious personal trainer come from in the first place?

Together We're Heavy starts off well. Rob is a highly likeable character and the relationship between him and his mother is instantly amusing. We also immediately understand his frustrations with his dead-end life and desire for something better. However the script never goes beyond the obvious and while there is much scope to develop the characters, they constantly remain superficial.

Because of this, character actions feel unconvincing. In particular the revelation about Rob's mental illness feels more like an afterthough than the writer's intention from the very beginning. This is a real shame as the play has the promise to be entertaining and funny before developing into something darker and more sinister.

The theatre at the Cock Tavern is small and while set designer Anviere has done the best he could, the space is too small for such a literal play. Thus the production often feels cramped for not just the audience but the actors. This proves a constant distraction, especially the scenes where Rob's mother Mary is meant to be lying unconscious upstairs, but we can clearly see her sitting on a chair behind a black door.

Director Tanith Lindon has also accomplished much with the space and script and, taking these into account, the play moves along well. The only exception is the use of the often unclear video images and I question there necessity and what they add to our understanding of the play.

The cast of five all give good performances, in particular Austin Spangler as egotistical, two-time Walter and Jean Apps as sweet and caring Mary. However one can't help but think that the play was never a challenge for the talented bunch of actors.

As it stands Together We're Heavy is a likeable script that may be better suited to an episode of a long running TV Sitcom. However with some re-drafting, increase in running time and a move to a larger space, this average production could become quite good.

Playing until 24th October, 2009

Reviewer: Karla Williams

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