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The Theatreguide.London Review

Bush Theatre August 2009

Last summer the Bush Theatre had fun with a revue called Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover, and they have decided to repeat the adventure, commissioning sketches and bits from a handful of writers on the theme of Embarrassing Moments.

The result is inevitably uneven but, running just a smidge over an hour, its high points carry it over the weaker moments to make a pleasant and unassuming entertainment - the London equivalent of an Edinburgh Fringe student revue.

So there's a monologue about a particularly messy childbirth, and a sketch about an overanxious hostess, and a kind of spoken fugue in which the four performers voice thoughts during sex.

Two running gags feature, respectively, a guy repeatedly exposed as a Westlife fan and a drunken slag unable to resist making a spectacle of herself in bars.

As with the Leave Your Lover revue last year, some of the bits, such as the overlong sketch about the fall of Woolworth's, are only very tangentially connected to the theme.

The song by the increasingly desperate-for-a-man girl could fit any revue, as could the one in which Old Boys at a reunion revert to pre-teen personalities.

Indeed, the hour might best be enjoyed if you ignored its claim to a theme and just took each sequence on its own terms.

Revue tradition requires at least a couple of sequences that reach for pathos or some hint of seriousness. The anxious hostess sketch doesn't quite make it, but one in which a woman catalogues a lifetime of embarrassing moments takes on depth as we realise the context of her memories.

And the strongest-written piece begins as a comically drunken wedding speech and then chillingly morphs into something much darker.

Credit for individual pieces isn't given, so contributors Zawe Ashton, James Graham, Joel Horwood, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and Michelle Terry must share praise for the good parts and commiseration for those that don't quite work.

Kathryn Drysdale (memories), Katie Lyons (drunk), Felix Scott (wedding speech) and Hugh Skinner (Westlife fan) contribute to the fun with their infectious high spirits.

Gerald Berkowitz

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