Dazed and Abused

Sweet on the Grassmarket, Edinburgh Fringe

On leaving the theatre, I was determined to write something to the effect that the acting was horrendous, and that I found it impossible to sympathise with any of the rather shallow caricatures of a young and monied elite. Until I realised that they – and the writer Kinvara Balfour (a kind of Tara Palmer Tomkinson character, only less cerebral) – were actually playing themselves.

My initial confusion over whether the sujects or the writing was self-indulgent, cliched and pointless was thus resolved. The answer is both. There may perhaps have been a sitcom in the making here, a kind of Men Behaving Badly for those who have it all – the coke habit, ‘adultescent’ outlook and aversion to commitment, that is. But that would still require evidence of some talent from those involved. A psychiatrist – who really did look like he was acting, and badly – opened the whole farce. At the end when the misogynist and the suicidal friend of the woman he is supposedly dating look like falling in love, the good doctor intervenes because falling in love is not in the script.

It is not only the ultimate in theatre as therapy, but is also remarkably self-loathing when you consider the kind of advantages these extremely unlikeable characters supposedly have in life. Their descent inot psychobabble really isn’t very funny to watch. I’d rather they kept it to themselves. What on paper might have seemed intriguing in reality is – for this critic at least – the first dud of this year’s Fringe.

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