Too Clever by Half *1/2

‘Where there’s life, there’s hope.’  So says a character in Too Clever by Half, A Play, a Pie and a Pint’s offering this week.  Unfortunately, as there is little ‘life’ to be had, one comes out of the performance feeling very little ‘hope’.

Set in an isolation chamber in an unnamed biochemistry complex, two characters have been infected with an unknown virus.  They await word as to the extent of their infection and only have contact with the outside world via a voice through an intercom.

With much current events discussion over the use of chemical and biological warfare, this subject is rather timely.  Sadly, the play has no intention of giving any serious look at the topic, instead settling on two babbling characters one feels very little for and a pace within the first half that drains one of any emotional connection.  The second half fares better, but the script at this point becomes infected by its own ‘intelligence’, spouting off lines, facts and over-explanations that only seem to be there to prove how ‘clever’ Andrew Dallmeyer is a writer and director.

Actors Morag Stark and Ross Stenhouse do the best they can, but with such weak material there is very little for them to connect to.  The second half presents more appealing possibilities, but every time something of interest starts to happen the script leaves and goes off on another tangent.  Stark and Stenhouse’s job seems to be to keep up with the script rather than to play parts.

One must also comment on the design concept, which is sorely lacking.  The use of projections gives very little dramatic effect, proving to be more of a distraction than anything, and the sound effects, with level problems, felt vacant at best.

Too Clever by Half is an extremely disappointing experience.  The ideas are quite good and the subject matter certainly gives the possibility of a very good theatre piece, but this isn’t it.

Playing at Oran Mor until April 25, 2009.

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One Response

  1. Agree 100% with your comments. A hugely disappointing execution of a potentially interesting premise. I couldn’t even bring myself to write a full ‘review’ of it. Thank goodness the pies and pints can be relied on…

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