Dir. Sean Wilkie, The Websters Theatre, 27th April – 1st May
Following the lives of three young women who discover, supposedly, ‘that life is not exactly what Sex and the City promised them’, The Graduettes engages with the typical qualities of a sit-com but with a plot that feels inconsistent at times.
Sophie (Jennifer McErlane) is preparing to meet her boyfriend’s mother, a process made more nerve racking by the fact that she is unexpectedly pregnant. However plans are put on hold when a body is found murdered on her apartment floor. Flatmate Grace (Heather Haddow) then decides to solve the mystery of the murder herself rather than report to the police and it is here that the seriousness of the plot falls into question.
While the drama insists on being as outrageous as possible, the moments of subtle mockery and relatable cynicism are the funniest throughout the play. The witty side comments and intricate dialogue are where the actors perform best – however, the script is not textually strong enough to fully explore the comedy. Where the narrative should have focussed on dramatising the familiar post-university blues and mishaps between a group of flatmates, the more contrived humour, which verges on slap-stick, was put to the fore-front. This results in a strange, unconvincing murder investigation, the theft of a neighbour’s baby and some lazy jokes about lesbianism: tropes which cheapen the quality of an otherwise promising premise.
The set is a strong point. A broken telephone hung crookedly from a bare, paint stripped wall and a littered, Ikea coffee table help to signify the anti-climatic atmosphere of graduate life. The set was indeed a winning asset; bare though it may have been it was one of the few areas of the performance where the action on stage authentically depicted the (post-)student experience.
The Graduettes had moments of clever humour but the unfeasible, artificial plot rendered the comedy less impressionable than it could otherwise have been.
[Tara Fitzpatrick – @TFitzpatrick25]