I don’t know how to say this, but… [by James Wenley]
If it hasn’t happened to you you’re either extremely fortunate, like to get in first, or lying.
Dumped is the title of the comedy play, and the firm subject. The characters – four bar staff and a particularly boozy customer each have their own take on the condition and rules of being both dumped and dumped-ee.
Work becomes awkward when Andy (Andrew Clay) breaks up with Fiona (Rachel Blampied)… via txt. She thinks this is an offensive way to do it, he says there is no good way of letting someone down. In the role of mediator is bar owner Mickey (Michael Saccente) who offers his years of experience as perspective, as well as some suitably salt-rimmed cocktail quips.
A follow up of sorts to Andrew Clay’s Book of Love (one of my faves from the 2009 festival), Dumped is a more generic then that offering, which saw Clay as stand-up narrator offering different scenarios and bad advice about love. Dumped is a mostly straight play that expands on the work-place breakup.
There’s ample comedy to be mined from the situation, though it goes over the expected ground and offers little new on subject. The (stock) characters at times feel little more than mouth pieces for clever lines about relationship breakups, though Saccente makes Mickey a rounded and even poignant character. I soon tire of Andy and Fiona’s antagonism (bickering, rather than clever sparring) and the later (inevitable) reconciliation feels unearned – we aren’t offered any good reason why these too would be good together, expect perhaps that they are as equally emotionally immature!
The moment that Jackie Clarke stumbles in drunk the show gets interesting. A perpetual bar fly who has trouble remembering all her ex-husbands, Clarke is an intoxicated joy. Her singing talent also gets time to shine in a fantasy scene that takes us by surprise and was the highlight of the show.
Dane Dawson was also fun as a loveable doofus who can’t imagine a dating world without Facebook and mobiles.
While Dumped might give little comfort to the recently single, it might offer some different perspectives and laughs. Ramping up of the character action, rather than the many discussion-fests, would elevate the play… and more wonderfully silly fantasy sequences wouldn’t go amiss either!
Dumped plays at The Herald Theatre as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival until 19 May. More details see Comedy Festival.