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Freddy Syborn
Etcetera Theatre

Wayne production photo

“Wayne Rooney woke up this morning to find that the world no longer makes sense... it’s a game of two halves”.

The blurb for Wayne at Etcetera Theatre pretty much sums up the play: it doesn’t make sense and it has two parts to it. But whilst ‘halves’ implies a whole, this is sadly lacking in the play.

It’s hard to describe the plot of this play as it’s easy to have watched it and be none the wiser. Four ghost writers, one of whom is played by the playwright Freddy Syborn, generally throw abuse and confuse Wayne Rooney. They pose as his therapist, his manager, his agent and various other people from his life as they do so, often with some Narnia twist that is tenuously linked to Wayne.

Whilst the second ‘half’ gains a modicum of coherence, it has no relation to the first half. The monologue is performed truthfully and impressively by Jude Owusu, but it is no longer a comedy and has very little to do with Wayne Rooney.

Wayne isn’t the only one who is confused by the first section of the play. It’s like a car struggling up hill with too many people in it: although it tries hard and has lots of energy behind it, it’s ineffective and doesn’t seem to go anywhere. The four ghost writers race around the stage swapping costumes and accents, shouting and talking over each other as though the play isn’t hard enough to follow as it is. It’s not until the second section that there’s a moment of quiet to breathe in; everything before is a frantic frenzy.

Although there are some good one-liners, they’re often lost in delivery. There are also a lot of cheap one-liners and bad one-liners: each time the immature ‘don’t touch my balls’ gag was thrown in, it was met with silence from the audience.

Apart from the bizarre Narnia twist, the comedy is all one-liners. Jokes that could have been carried through the piece and expanded on were left once the punch line had been said. The writers pick names such as Andy McNab and Sylvia Plath to introduce themselves, but after a couple of jabs at Sylvia Plath this is never mentioned again. In a comedy that lacks coherence and continuity, some running gags would have been welcome.

The play badly needs a good director. Under all the shouting and the actors flinging themselves across each other, it’s hard to tell how much or little promise the script has. Streamlined and turned down a few notches, there might have been some sort of structure.

Watching Wayne is rather like being the designated driver. All your friends are joking and laughing and talking over each other, but you’re sober and can’t see what’s so hysterically funny. Whatever was going through Freddy Syborn’s head as he wrote the play was lost in a very confused and chaotic production.

Reviewer: Emma Berge