The TheatreguideLondon Review
Park Theatre February-March 2014
This hour of mime and clowning by the young company Hot Coals Theatre is, unfortunately, not an effective showcase for either their inventiveness as writers or their skills as performers.
Ostensibly inspired by The Three Sisters, the piece's only connection to Chekhov is that the characters are named Olga, Masha and Irena. For no particular reason one has a putty Cyrano nose, another buck teeth and the third a fat suit. They're old ladies, perhaps sisters, about to be evicted from their house and resisting attempts to move them to a retirement home.
Until a man-the-barricades climax, that plot line doesn't really drive the evening, which is made up of a string of independent and in-no-particular-order episodes, almost entirely in mime in the mode (though not on the level) of Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean, and generally structured so that the women take turns falling asleep in pairs while the third does something comic.
Inevitably there are a few bright moments, but too many of the set pieces are either over-extended beyond any comic power, like a pillbox routine, or just unfunny – one uses her awake time to try to hide a pile of envelopes, but since we're not told what they are (unpaid bills?), there's simply no joke there.
The mime scenes are punctuated by a string of telephone calls, which they take on a half-dozen phones from different eras, generally from telemarketers or the social worker trying to rehouse them. (The single best joke of the evening comes in a call from the retirement home, offering the enticement of their activities: 'crocheting . . . horseback riding . . . speed dating . . .')
There might be enough comic material here for a ten or fifteen minute sketch, but even then it would require tighter direction and performers with more natural instinct as clowns and technical ability as mimes. In the faith that everyone involved will go on to successful careers, there is no need to name them here.
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