Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: This Will End Badly, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott
A MAN stands before us, aggressive, confrontational and troubled. Actually he’s three men, all connected to a single woman: one, a chauvinist coldly sizing up women; another, left constipated by the end of his relationship; and another who’s depressed and building up to killing himself.
Occasionally permeated by the odd moment of humour and humanity, it’s an otherwise very bleak portrayal of three largely unsympathetic figures and the voices in their heads.
Rob Hayes, who wrote last year’s brilliantly titled Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve F*cked is a highly distinctive writer, seemingly able to spew out rattling dialogue, propelled by a love of language and, in this instance, what feels like a lot of anger.
While the title is disappointingly literal this time, the piece has a level of candour that it suits – with performer Ben Whybrow giving a commanding performance that’s simultaneously unsettling and exhilarating to watch.
Over the course of the action, the characters sometimes blur together in a way that makes them seem like one homogeneous mass of testosterone, sweat and misogyny. Hayes’ own voice is so strong that there’s a danger they all end up talking in the same way and this, despite Whybrow’s formidable acting skills, can make them feel lacking in individual definition. While the relentless pace is part of what makes the piece sing, slightly longer pauses between character changes would break up the barrage of words and allow us to better see the people behind them.
Ultimately, these are a group of men united by the fact they can’t control their emotions or actions. While the piece is sometimes in danger of presenting male destruction with no real analysis, it is arresting to watch – so much so that by the time the lights go out at the end and the first man’s story comes full circle, the audience let out an audible gasp.
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), until 31 August, 3:20pm.
Published in The Scotsman on 25 August 2015
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