Don’t Be Terrible – A Black Comedy by Ellen Waddell & Oliver Milburn: A Review

Bunbury Magazine – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In the beginning, there was Alice, a dark, rumbling force of comedy with no time for fools, and Alice was good. She takes to the stage at a comedy club and storms a stand-up routine to rapturous applause. Such is the ferocity of her performance that Steve, a well-meaning, kind-hearted audience member, asks her for lessons in how to be a stand-up.

What follows from this point engrossing on every level – the beautiful writing brought to life by first-class performances by Holly Aston and Daniel Cech-Lucas, as Alice and Steve respectively. We see the development of their relationship together, the trails and tribulations of their own relationships and Steve’s journey into the world of comedy as a way to recapture his girlfriend’s love. There is an obvious and immediate chemistry between Holly and Daniel which helps the dialogue ad structure radiate over the audience.

This is not a traditional play. This is a play that, right from it’s innovative opening, has a lot to say about relationships – how they form and end and every moment in between; the desperation that can be felt; the heartbreak. It is also a sharply-observed glimpse behind the curtain of what it takes to actually be funny and how to write comedy that will make people laugh. The ‘stand-up’ sections have a wonderful rhythm and flow to them, reminiscent of the best poetry you could imagine.

The narrative of the play never wavers from its course and is wonderfully balanced from its state-of-imperfection opening through to the climax and ending, which is a superbly far away from a Disney happily-ever-after as you can imagine. It is a genuine emotional roller-coaster and a thrill to ride it – dark, funny, expressive and intelligent.

The forms and conventions of plays and stand-up are toyed with, flipped and laid bare in Don’t Be Terrible to an exquisite level. For a play which can give you everything you need from entertainment, and more, this should not be missed.

Written by Christopher Moriarty

Don’t be Terrible: A Black Comedy by Ellen Waddell & Oliver Milburn

Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, 1500

Until 26th August

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