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Reviews of Perfection - A Most Illuminating Tale
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Robert Wells or Mr Waters
Date: 5.48 pm, Monday 24th July, 2006
Subject: Reviews of Perfection
Security: Public
Tags:reviews, shows
Quick trawl of the internet brings forth these, homogenized for my sanity:


Perfection seeks out a successful relationship


PERFECTION is a rom com, but before any of you not enamoured of the genre turn the page, it’s anything but saccharine. Sharp, witty writing with an underlying darkness fuels this fast-paced look at our quests to find perfection in our romantic partners. Sarah Fortune plays a feisty Meg, who lives with the knowledge she will die from cystic fibrosis. Before she dies she invites all of best friend Amanda’s (Sarah Cowan) past loves to the funeral, forcing Amanda to take a hard look at whether her search for the ideal partner has destroyed her happiness. The scene cuts back and forth between times before Meg’s death and after it, when Amanda revisits each of her ex-boyfriends to re-examine their compatibility. Mark Lindow’s funny script draws no polite titters, but much hard laughter from the audience throughout. For instance, at the funeral there is a spat between Amanda’s jealous former lovers. Ex-boyfriend James (Robert Walters) is a wide boy mockney who mangles his pronunciation. When he flippantly remarks “nice buffet” at Meg’s funeral, Taylor (Matt Prendergast) remarks with perfect comic timing, “Buffy, is a vampire slayer”. But what really gives the play its zest is how scenes teeter along a knife’s edge, often tipping from humour into sadness or rage and skilfully back again. All the cast give commendable performances, particularly Gareth McCherly as the suave Sam, and Sarah Cowan (Amanda) as the late 20-something, outwardly assured, inwardly troubled heroine. There’s some improper behaviour by James (Robert Walters) near the end which isn’t quite believable. But the play is sophisticated enough to keep the final outcome a surprise, if a rather sudden one. Examining issues such as compromise, Perfection manages to easily make serious points about the necessary elements of successful relationships without the faintest sentimentality.
Jane Wild - 06/07/06




**
‘It’s not just blokes that are crap at relationships’ explains the flyer for this new play, helpfully. Indeed not. According to new writer Mark Lindow, women are more than capable of the kind of flighty, four-timing, manipulative behaviour which confuses the opposite sex ad infinitum. As a warped, sardonic comedy, this story of a thirty-something singleton who meets four of her ex-boyfriends at her best friend’s funeral might have been riotously funny. But there’s nothing remotely ironic about Emma Blundell’s production, which displays Mandy’s thoroughly implausible search for her perfect beau in seemingly complete, unreflective seriousness.
Lindow’s dialogue is peppered with wry and acute observations, and he is highly skilled at weaving multiple timelines together without once losing his audience’s bearings. But his characters, as they appear on Blundell’s stage, are so unremittingly unlikeable that it becomes increasingly difficult to care about their various muddled attempts at fulfilment, or their highly unlikely, messy ends. Matt Prendergast is suitably silly as Taylor, the grand love of Mandy’s life, who scuppered his chances of wedded bliss by opting for Glastonbury over a romantic summer holiday, and Robert Lockhart manages to make the wooden, wealthy and determinedly unexciting Clive seem far and away Mandy’s best shot at happiness. Margaret Krawecka’s set is also beautifully inventive and unfussy, but with some patchy performances, straight-laced directing and an overdose of morbid nastiness without the satisfying bite of satire, this feels like an attempt at hyperbolic humour that has gone uninspiringly awry.
Lucy Powell - 10/07/06

Not sure your reviewer Lucy went to see the same show. I thought this show was funny, very well put togehter and engaging. Maybe Timeout need a rethink on who they send to some of these things
Cameron Rimington - 13/07/06

I enjoyed Perfection - once I had got the hang of it which only took about 15 minutes. I agree that the veggie jokes wore a bit, but the production as a whole from the set, the direction, the actors etc. were excellent. Funny, irreverant, and well constructed, the performers and the director melded to produce a splendid evening. I wonder too if Lucy saw the same play as I did. Takes all sorts I guess.
J.M.W. Price - 21/07/06



Meg is dying of cystic fibrosis. As a last, impish gesture, she invites all of best friend Amanda’s exes to her funeral. When they turn up, Amanda is forced to relive each past relationship - each one a study in the slow rot of love. Was Taylor, her student lover and lead singer of rock band Electric Hedge, actually the one? What went wrong with nice dependable art dealer Clive? And why on earth did she go for pervy IT schmeek Sam in the first place?
Meg’s death is an overly elaborate plot device to justify what is, in essence, a Groundhog Day study of cosmopolitan relationships. We feel little sympathy for Meg - or for Amanda, for that matter. The twists of story are so ludicrous that it’s hard to get emotionally involved and the cutting between the scenes always seems to be an easy way out - just in case we might get down to some real emotional truths. Matt Prendergast plays an engaging Taylor, cheeky chappie sexy, and the chemistry between him and Sarah Cowan (Amanda) is missing from her other ‘relationships’.
A clever, versatile box set has a pleasing economy that is lacking elsewhere in the play.
Zoë Green - 12/07/06



The programme contains a cut-out-and-wear dress for a cut-out woman, much like the ones you used to get in the girl's magazines. I mean, in your sister's. Not that I was looking in them, or dressing up little cut-out women or anything like that. Anyscissors, the resulting impression that this play is about the perfect woman also goes for the message within: confused and underdeveloped if not misdirected.
While it is a good production in terms of writing, acting and set design, the play warns today's single woman to be less picky with her choice of partner without any real development to back up the message. This play needed to be longer and the ending leaves much to be desired. While some would say it's good to 'leave 'em' wanting more', I say 'bollocks'.
Amanda attends the funeral of her best friend Meg only to find a selection of her exes has been invited without her knowledge, apparently to show and contrast the men that she's passed over; the chances of happiness she's missed. However, even with the cleverly engineered flashbacks, the scenes only go to show that indeed they were compatible up to a point - while Amanda remains single as she searches for the perfect romance, nothing is really shown to prove that she should have stayed with any particular man. 'If you don't choose, you lose' says the play, but any parent making the case for arranged marriages would say the same thing…
You don't feel sorry for Amanda and regret the choices she makes, unless you're a traditional misogynist, the sort of person who assumes female actors are only keeping themselves occupied with silly shows like this just until they fall pregnant. Who cares about thirtysomething spinsters anyway? Haven't we had enough of Sex in the City? If you believe in true love then you'd totally agree with Amanda and feel she's perfectly justified to trample all over the (far from perfect) men that fall at her feet. At the end of the play we never learn whether all her friend's efforts were in vain as the character of Amanda does not react, does not develop, but maintains the same line throughout. What are we supposed to learn from this? Oh right, feminism is so 1990s, I forgot.
At least the acting is faultless, I quite enjoyed seeing the difference between Sarah Fortune's Meg as teenager and adult; the men bounce off each other like the exes you would expect but again, I feel these characters also deserved more development - Meg merely invited the men to the funeral, there's no real engineering at work, nothing to suggest she had anything more planned (and whether it succeeded). The male caricatures don't give us any reason to pick a favourite - they're all weak, even when they (hilariously) square up to one another. The set, while fiddly, works efficiently and effectively. Mind you, I'm growing tired of hearing Pulp, Blur and Oasis in every other production to set the 1990s timeline - were those the only bands around?
It's as if the play had to be cut short and condensed, sacrificing Amanda's personal development for a fringe time slot - instead of an opportunity for a strong female character to stick to her guns and find true love, she walks (well, runs) off into the sunset packing proverbial blanks. Any meaning left in the play is a shot in the dark, nothing we haven't heard before, the usual noises at night that we consider for a second but casually ignore, before returning to sleep.
Graham Smith - 14/07/06



****
A strikingly good black comedy from writer Mark Lindow, "Perfection" following the romantic adventures and vacillations of Amanda, a young woman whose best friend Meg is dying of cystic fibrosis. Concerned that Amanda's perfectionism (and apparent devotion to her friend) is blotting out her chances of happiness, Meg invites three of Amanda's ex-boyfriends to her funeral... The script is moving, troubling, witty and hilariously (though sometimes uncomfortably!) funny. The tightly-woven plot with its frequent flashbacks is a gem. The one-liners and moments of slow farce worthy of any comedy writer. For a smallish first-night audience we made an awful lot of noise. :-) I did have a few reservations: with some points belaboured (the vegetarian jokes did wear a little thin after a time) and some brushed over to an extent that is puzzling (how much did Meg expect things to turn out as they did?) and left me wondered whether there were deliberate ambiguities, or whether Lindow was failing to get across everything that he intended. Not even those slight reservations for Emma Blundell's flawless direction. Margaret Krawecka's entertainingly creative set (complete with adaptable cardboard boxes set into the wall, that open to form gallery spaces, shelves, bars...) also deserves a special mention! The best acting plaudits must go to Sarah Cowan's confused, complex, self-deceiving but still lovable Amanda, struggling to find happiness and the nature of true altruism. She is wonderfully well-supported throughout, however, by a cast that contains no weak links. Sarah Fortune is wise, gentle, silly and unyielding as Meg. Matt Prendergast brings a touching vulnerability to immature and self-centered Taylor. Rob Lockhart is both sweet and frustrating as the gentleman Clive. Robert Waters is constantly watchable as the funny, chirpy but profoundly obnoxious "mockney twat" James. Finally Gareth McChlery is a delight as Sam, the most well-rounded of the male characters, and a fitting foil to the women. The cast play well together, the comic timing is gorgeous, and there is a palpable chemistry in every scene. Highly recommended, in short. Expect to leave with a giggle and a smile and a lump in your throat, perhaps a little disillusioned with your fellows, but thoroughly entertained. :-)
Elly Metcalfe - 05/07/06

****
Great show. Everyone should go and see this. It made me laugh
Cam - 13/0706
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