Photo courtesy of English Theatre Berlin
Three couples, three sets of folding chairs, the bullet-point outline of three relationships: Lovepuke, written by Duncan Sarkies and directed by Fingal Pollock at the English Theatre Berlin, garbage-disposes the epic tales of three archetypal couples into a 90-minute play.
Who’s coupled? There's Ivan, the egotistical macho-male (Dharmander Singh); Kevin, the not-so-smooth pick-up-liner closet-case (Shaunessy Ashdown); and Nathan, the dorky-dork (Martin Ware). Who are dating – respectively - Janice, the clingy wannabe-fairytale-princess (Danielle Janess); Louise, the singles' bar whore (Amy Nye); and Marissa, the average, no-personality perfect girl (Amy Benson).
The play begins as each couple walks on stage and outlines the major events that shaped their relationship: namely, lots of sex, lots of arguing and, for some, lots of breaking up and getting back together again. The plot then winds back to the beginning of each of their stories: a chance meeting at a party (or singles bar) and proceeds chonologically from there. Their adventures are narrated by Glen (David Deery), an artsy, plaid-shirted, hipster-glasses-wearing singleton - the kind of guy who’s destined to become that cynical, slightly pathetic best friend of your father's who gets a little too drunk and makes an ass of himself at family barbecues.
The play is a bit like Sex in the City's six seasons in Spark Notes form. But Lovepuke’s characters are shabbily dressed and utterly unglamorous - and whereas most woman in America can relate to Charlotte, Miranda, Carrie or Sam, these characters are as flat as the placards that clock their relationships. The dialogue is uninventive, and although there are a few twists in the story, even they are predictable. Lovepuke could just work if the actors infused more quirks, histories and personalities into their characters. But the actors’ representations, while occasionally 100 percent on target, don’t go deeper than the clichéd script.
Still, the concept behind Lovepuke makes for enjoyable light summer viewing. And several of the performers do pull off truly hilarious (if unsustainable) character sketches: in particular, Singh and Janess’s Ivan and Janice are reach a Saturday Night Live-worthy level of awfulness.
LOVEPUKE | Through July 10. For more information, visit www.etberlin.de