Archive for category Adele Monk
Adele’s favourite 2012 Fringe shows were:
James Cooney’s performance makes you visualise this 15 year old lad’s story in agonising detail. You need to pinch yourself to remember that he is just one very talented young man on an empty stage. Beware of reviews with spoilers, don’t risk it, and just see it (if it’s not too late)!
The Fantasist (review)
Theatre Témoin have devised a production which is engaging from the start, a focus which is maintained by Julia Yevnine’s unwavering energy as Louise; an artist trapped in her own mind by the dizzying rapidity of her mental health.
Confessions of Old Lady #2 (review)
Joan Shepard shares her priceless stories and it’s a real treat to hear her history in lavish detail. Her songs may be out of time, out of tune, but it really doesn’t matter, it even adds to its charm. An incredible woman I’d love to get locked in conversation with.
Inside Belt Up’s cushioned and draped playroom, you step into the margins of Lewis Carroll’s books to witness a retelling of stories inspired by his literature in a surprisingly unique way for an author who is so often over used. For ‘Outland’ steers away from the pages and hones in on the author, spinning a fascinating exploration of the imagination behind the best-loved stories enjoyed by adults and children alike. Written by company member Dominic Allen, the world which Belt Up creates is inspired by the possibility of a rare epileptic condition which historians believe that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) suffered from. Taking the audience by the hand, both metaphorically and tangibly, this trio guide the onlookers through parallel worlds as both witness and participant of the stories in the mind of professor Charles; wonderfully played by the Allen. It takes a little getting used to adults playing children, but ‘Outland’ is familial and the casts unwavering commitment to their characters aids the suspension of disbelief. Jethro Compton and Serena Manteghi skilfully flit between the professor’s adult companions Muriel and Arthur; also his doctor and the children Sylvie and Bruno who are brought to life from the lesser known of Carroll’s wonderful and irresistible nonsense with Alice sidelined, but not forgotten in this adventure down the rabbit hole.
Once inside their hub of stories and seated thigh to thigh with a stranger on a mishmash of cushions and benches, you could be 5 years old again. Belt Up do not disappoint, they use retrospect to their advantage, tapping into the mind of an adult character to unveil the magical stories often belonging to children and challenge this ownership by placing the imaginative key into the hands of a dying man who becomes the driving force in the desire to take the mind to ‘Outland’, but perhaps not back again.
‘Outland’ is a master class in imaginative play, every parent could learn a thing or two from these actors’ performances and when I have children, I’d like to borrow Belt Up. They are more than an adult crèche however, but I am certainly inspired to emulate the creative energies within the company to share with my children one day. It helps that Compton and Manteghi look very young, but their performances refuse to rely on this as there is clear maturity in the strong cast dynamic which is to be expected from performing three different shows each day at the Fringe.
‘The Boy James’ is based around the author of Peter Pan, J.M Barrie and contains many ambiguities surrounding the interactions between the author and his younger self. The audience are invited into the cosy room by the excitable Jethro Compton as the protagonist playing a boy and seated in the certainly atmospheric performance space.
Already intimately spaced within the room, we are made to hold hands and introduce ourselves to a neighbour and tell one another of an adventure, as if you’ve walked into a bizarre speed dating scenario on your first day at school. It certainly plays with breaking audience conventions and tensions, but is somewhat awkwardly orchestrated. When you are painfully reminded of the inhibitions of adulthood and left with the mind blank that comes from being put on the spot to tell someone something interesting about yourself on the topic of being adventurous, perhaps they should leave this responsibility on themselves, as they capture the sense of child’s play with ease. It is a nice idea but I preferred their simpler device of engaging the audience in the act of hiding from the character James by closing and covering their eyes. This moment is the first introduction to the character and the audience experience it blind. As the scene is played out and you listen to James speak for the first time, the piece is opened up to utilising the senses and the temptation to peek sparks immediate curiosity.
Having seen both ‘Outland’ and ‘The Boy James’ it is clear how Belt Up can transform within their shabby chic room with an explosion of tales full of excitement and capturing such innocence that they are not afraid to break. Although the narrative seems weak in places with less of a storyline than an experience of performance, ‘The Boy James’ is really well paced. They maintain a sense of adventure and manage to orientate the audience against scepticism, even if reluctantly because they place this attitude at the hands of one of the characters instead, which instantly and cleverly encourages the audience to pick sides. They use this technique in both ‘The Boy James’ and ‘Outland’ and although there are many crossovers in style and technique, their stories are different experiences but equally engaging. They also do not shy away from unearthing flawed characters and sinister streaks. Lulled into a false sense of security by Compton’s performance as the boy, the shows dark twists lead to uncomfortable scenes of sexual abuse and a heart-breaking final sequence which asks the audience to abandon a helpless boy.
It’s like Belt Up rewrite children’s classic literature, so that Peter Pan would take Mr and Mrs Darling to Neverland instead of Wendy and the other children. Like Peter Pan’s inability to grow up, this theme is well ingrained in the company’s work and governs the journeys and attitudes of the characters. But although the show makes a compelling case for believing in the innocence of the characters, It isn’t entirely clear who the anonymous girl is, or what she is supposed to represent so that when she spirals recklessly into precociousness and rapes the vulnerable boy James, Peter Pan seems to have flown a long way away and the escapism vanishes.
The show takes inspiration from real life dialogue with gambling addicts in London in this re-imagining of the setting at the turn of the century France. Running the risk of over romanticising the illness through physical theatre, ‘The Gambler’ triumphs over the audience with a though-provoking and engaging journey. These beautiful and intelligent physical routines between the dynamic duo; Guillaume Pigé and Tugba Tamer stand out in this low key performance as Tamer’s seductive and dangerous embodiment of Edgar’s gambling addiction dances around the card table in fast and intriguing interchanges. The pair succeed to infuse the tensions of their characters in a captivating performance style with an atmosphere which transcends the heady grasp the casino can have upon Edgar. Pigé plays the gruff speaking Fagin-esque addict and in retrospect, his younger vulnerable self charting the development of his gambling addiction and how a roulette table turns from a game to a drug. However, perhaps because we are first introduced to Edgar as a dilapidated and exaggerated figure, not quite a villain, but certainly a man you’d deliberately cross he street to avoid making eye contact with, the tale of tragedy is somehow not quite as tragic as it ought to be.
The pair excel when telling the story through their timed-to-perfection routines with an impressive repertoire of physical inflections down to the nimble fingered card tricks to the subtle nuances of the pairs expressive faces. They are a remarkably handsome couple onstage and effectively channel the emotional and all-consuming grip of addiction through a sexual pull. They are compelling to watch as they dart smoothly around one another aided by the fantastically appropriate live music composed and played by Alex Judd. Judd’s positioning on stage works well with an especially powerful and dramatic opening to the piece and the balance of the musicians presence versus intrusion is largely well orchestrated.
As a cast trained from a physical centre with Artistic Director and performer Guillaume Pigé’s background from the International School of Corporeal Mime in London, they make a strong case for the dark allure of gambling without the necessity of wordy narration. The non-movement based scenes therefore remained in the murky shadows against the slick choreography. So although the physical components of the show were brilliantly executed, I think Theatre Re could benefit from an outside eye to tighten the overall pace as their physical performances certainly surpass the episodes of dialogue. ‘The Gambler’ is both brilliant and flawed, a bittersweet irony of the themes the show explores, but their quick witted movements will play on my mind for a while.
This exceptionally strong quartet instantly grabs you with the literal take on the idiom ‘walking on eggshells’ setting the tone for the utterly mesmerising performance which follows. ‘Knee Deep’ tests the physical limits of the human body, with the toughness and fragility of an egg as a recurring theme and metaphor. A petite woman takes the weight of three men upon her shoulders and the four performers clamber over one another like fleshy twisting staircases, without a trace of sweat at all.
They perform the most incredible and dangerous acrobatic stunts with such ease that it is easy to forget that with the slightest wobble, they could fall from great heights and shatter; as demonstrated by a falling egg which cracks in a bowl beneath a tower of stacked bodies reaching up towards the circus top.
Despite performing the most incredibly impressive acrobatic stunts, the performers displayed great humility and the show took a surprisingly humble form. Rather than being recklessly flashy, this modernised circus act defies the stigma of tacky circus behaviour and revives a positive spin on wanting to run away with the circus as I certainly wanted to bottle them and drink in their super-human talents.
This was the most magical display of physical theatre from these acrobatic gods. For the entirety of the show, I was mesmerised and constantly baffled by their aerial stunts, balancing acts and beautiful moving bodily sculptures. Casus are surely the most exciting modern circus act around.
Eastern Angles have produced this very simple yet powerful play both beautiful and heart breaking, a real treat to end the Fringe with. This performance is certainly in the top three shows I’ve seen this month, if not all year.
Milo Twomey and Jay Taylor compassionately tell the story of transvestite Lulu and his autistic son he never knew about called Hew. From a man who attests “I don’t like dads, I never wanted to be one”, they form a beautiful bond connecting through music and “slub clump” around the town together. Falling in sync to strict timetables and karaoke, they come to realise how much they need one another. Using some of the best loved tunes of 80s pop music well stitched into the fabric of the show, this is much more than a cabaret act. Joel Horwood‘s script is tender and opens the eyes of even the blindest among us, even if just for a short while in the safety of the theatre.
This is a really strong script, a perfect balance of the hard hitting hurdles on their journeys from being thrust together out of tragic circumstances, through to incredibly funny anecdotes as they face the world together. This tale of unrequited love is very well paced and narrates their stories mostly through Lulu’s eyes. Their small flat in Peterborough could be anywhere and as their relationship is made to seem like the most endearing thing in the world during the show and can leave the audience questioning their own prejudices. This play does so much more than just entertain, behind the lipstick and sequins it is thought provoking and I urge you to track this show down on its tour in October.
Superbolt Theatre deliver a completely mad show of mistaken identities, murdered ballet dancers and deliberately terrible yet hilarious puppetry on a journey to recover the holy grail of music; the ‘Piatto Finale’. Indeed the show takes a very Monty Python style, smattered with slapstick comedy as the cast leap from behind a curtain to emerge as all kinds of unpredictable characters, you have no clue what might happen next.
The storytelling is best described as fruity, but the plot is all over the place, hopping from country to country with completely bonkers twists. This comedy wears everything on its sleeve but it is a frayed sleeve and could unravel if not for the energy of the performers and a pinch of salt on the audiences behalf. The talented cast gel so well together, Maria Askew, Frode Gjerlow and Simon Maeder make a slick team in this flamboyant non-sensical play which surpasses silliness straight to ridiculous.
It is more like watching a cartoon with Maeder’s wild popping eyes which had some audience crying with laughter. There are some great lines in this comedy, but its rapid speed can overwhelm. This inventive company do have a great sense of fun however, which creates theatre fuelled by laughter.
As a piece which explores architectural designs, the stylistic Lecoq routes of the company is physically suited to a satirical piece exploring the development of High rise council estates in the Fifties Brutalism movement. Taking inspiration from Le Corbusier’s ideas that “The house is a machine for living in”, the show has great foundations, following the quirky disillusioned couple Wendy and Roger who fall in love after meeting at an impassioned conference about the beauty of concrete embark on a housing project together with dreams of building walkways in the skies.
There is good use of dramatic irony to expose the couple’s warped dreams of grandiose building developments so that what is originally bliss and genius practicality becomes an oppressive, dirty and plagued community. There is dramatic irony down to the monochrome aesthetic, even their good willed, if naive plans for affordable housing proves their ideas of a concrete utopia are not black and white and their housing blocks named “Graceful Towers” are anything but. The piece seems to place sole blame of the decline of social standards as a direct result of these brutalist buildings, which is problematic and promotes a very one-sided argument to complex social issues which are again, not black and white.
Christina Hardinge‘s dynamic and versatile set design is an impressive and integral feature to the piece which actually overshadows the strength of the plot and performers. There is an interesting perspective on architecture as fashion, but the pace could drag and the characters could be annoying. The personified “community” character was especially grating on occasion but with some strong animated performances which enveloped surprisingly colourful energy out of a monochrome aesthetic. There were some really nice moments, but Let Slip theatre company need tighter direction to prevent their performances from taking a little too much from the company name.
‘Perle’ is based on one of the oldest poems in the English language and is translated on a small stage by one man and an old television set. He has switched himself on mute and can’t seem to find the remote control to leave his grief behind, pausing and rewinding a stack of VHS tapes which frame his life through square eyes.
It is a simple plot made interesting through an explorative relationship between a man and his television set but his story is ambiguous. Behind his smile and quaint illustrations he has experienced a loss and has been reduced to articulate this by conversing with the audience through televised speech bubbles, signs and symbols which make this simple show universal. He seems quite content with his numbed grief by limiting his world to a surreal living room using the grey box as the middle man for communication. But this cute show romanticises his pain as a live cartoon with twinkly music and doesn’t capture his loss in any way to touch the audience.
Although Thomas Eccleshare is a great performer, there were long drawn out moments which he couldn’t quite sustain and as a result the pace of this already slow moving and gentle creation lagged. His interaction with the television was clever but out of time. His movements were often a beat put of sync with the digital image which presented grey areas in the choreography. I found the atmosphere was ruined slightly when he broke his silence in the finale, as it seemed to undermine the rest of the show rather than symbolising a breaking free from his sadness. ‘Dancing Brick’ create a welcoming and enjoyable home from home with this cute show. It is an enjoyable and thoughtful alternative to tuning in at home.
‘The Demonstration Room’ at Summerhall couldn’t be better suited to the bizarre spectacle that Clout Theatre serve up. The amazing room is a haunting performance space with architecture that immediately creates the ominous impression that you’re either about to watch frogs be dissected, or a body strapped into an electric chair. Clout’s strong Bouffon trio are irresistible to watch from the off. Dusty and daubed with flaky clay, their highly physical performance begins as they peel themselves off the walls of the old observatory through a brilliantly sustained silence. The piece is devised around the story of ‘The Old Woman’ by Russian poet Daniil Kharms and flickers in and out of focus on the character of a writer and old woman whom he kills. This much is clear, the rest a blur.
This is a very brave piece of theatre, its narrative is as messy as their dirty aesthetic, but successfully so, you simply do not know what to expect next. The performers are so strong and perform as if they feel no pain; a man is assaulted with a vegetable, smacked over the head with a leek which shatters and fills the auditorium with its aroma and faces are buried in pudendum. It is a vulgar feast of fools, both watchable and repulsive, dirty and beautiful, the kind of theatre that makes you want to shower afterwards.
‘How A Man Crumbled’ is like a European silent movie where the show reel has been dragged through the mud and clay and this is the result. It is so unusual, purposely so, but I wonder whether there is a stage for ‘Clout’ off the Fringe? Certainly this is the company to help chisel this niche for their expressionist and grotesque clowning. The show is a rasping breath of fresh air, a walking paradox with a limp performed with obscene energy and through fluent gibberish, certainly a strong company capable of wonderful things.
Greg is approaching his 15th birthday, men with “muzzy’s” are revered, like his dad and football is the most important thing to him. This incredibly funny Liverpudlian coming of age play written by Luke Barnes and wildly performed by James Cooney is so much more than a conflict of the reds and blues. But you needn’t be a footy fan or a scouser to appreciate this play by any means. Cooney paints a humbling and loveable portrayal of Greg’s character and his world, including all the people in it.
His performance makes you visualise his story in agonising detail. You need to pinch yourself to remember that he is just one very talented young man on an empty stage.
What was hurtling towards further frivolous anecdotes belonging to a teenage boy, crashes down around you and the title takes a teary resonance.You don’t see it coming until the last moment, but it’s too late, you’re swept up by his pacey performance, lulled into a false sense of security until it hits you right in the back of the net. Barnes’ powerful writing is as much to thank for the way this performance punctuates as Steven Atkinson’s direction and Cooney’s wonderful performance.
Beware of reviews with spoilers, don’t risk it, just see it!
If the sound of polystyrene, the feel of newspaper or the sound of chalkboards makes you squeamish, this show is probably not for you. Although the harmless little white stick of chalk is the only culprit of these recoiling factors, an hour filled almost entirely by the drawing of a spider diagram can be grating if, like me you are affected by the above.
This is a performance to see with patient eyes as you pay to watch two individuals fill the time with minimal conversation as the man operates a series of old-fashioned projection slides of political slogans and photos of protests proceed a young woman’s angst chalking out all societal issues under the sun on the floor on black boards. With the occasional witty scribble, spiralling from the circled “I” at the centre of the web, the personal becomes political in an almost entirely non-verbal rant. As she scribbled these words however they seemed to loose significant meaning, overloading the piece with social, political and historical resonance as she says “I write not to forget”. It is ironic however, as her board allows change, simply erasing with a damp cloth and re-writing.
The show was visually more stimulating with the use of live feed projected onto a backdrop which was a clever device making the show more engaging whilst easier for the audience to read. Just when the show was getting boring however, the shows coup de theatre came when the projections screen was torn down and the boards were hoisted up to take its place. The metal letters and sticks of chalk slid down with loud clangs reminding me horribly of bodies sliding down the side of Titanic as it breaks in to and bobs vertically in the water before sinking.
It was a clever show, leaving each audience member with a photo print-out of the spider diagram, as a memento of the lessons learnt, but seemed more like a glorified lecture attempting to cram far too much into one seminar than necessary.
Rob Bailey is likeable enough, but a nervous disposition is perhaps not the best character trait to adopt as a performer. As a Psychologist turned psychic, he plays on the notion of using illusion as applied psychology with an entirely rational perspective on magic tricks and conning an audience. This self-confessed honesty attempts to win the audience on his side, but it is one thing to play the ‘psychics are frauds’ card and another to defy this technique of but through dreadful showmanship. Suffering at the hand of technical malfunctions, the show seemed very unrehearsed, with awkward mistakes and not enough charisma to gloss over them.
I’m a sucker for a good pun, but he tried too hard to work in comedy with some really terrible jokes, completely off the point to his shows material.
It is easy to pick holes in his technique, and although I sat there with my own predictions at hand sussing his tricks with satisfying smugness, his finale is nevertheless impressively dangerous. The trick itself is risky business, and the audience are unanimous in their sigh of relief when he pulls it off after an overall under-rehearsed set.
If you fancy embracing his cynicism with caffeine, crappy comedy and ‘Mind reading for Breakfast’, join Bailey’s morning stint and stick it out for the climax.
Through this musical memoir, Joan Shepard regales her anecdotes as Broadway and Hollywood actress from roles aged 7 to 70, this robust woman is fabulous but not fading. An audience with Jovial Joan’s deliciously dreadful songs, gleans a glimpse into her life on stage and behind the scenes her first steps as a child actress cast by Laurence Olivier to laughing with Liza in theatre corridors.
Shepard shares her priceless stories for free and it’s a real treat to hear her history in all their lavish detail. Her songs may be out of time, out of tune, but it really doesn’t matter, it even adds to its charm, this amazing woman can get away with it on the free Fringe. Her petite physique landed her roles as a teenager right up the age of 40, playing a 14year old Jim Hawkins against her husband as Long John Silver, and became a regular in children’s theatre, It may not have been an entirely glamourous career, but her passion for performing is a “lifetime love affair”. She once worked a matinee show with an entertaining encounter with Liza Minelli in a corridor, she was asked “Joan, how come you can sell out this place and I can’t?” she answered “because I’m Pinocchio, and you’re not”.
The show is appropriate for all interested in a life on the stage with this humble helping of theatrical gossip, name-droppings and songs I hope to never hear again, but by an incredible woman I’d love to get locked in conversation with. It isn’t plan-dropping, but If you have a spare hour in the early afternoon she is worth wandering in for.
This intriguing one-woman tale of the life of French Sculptress Camille Claudel is made fascinating by its real-life routes. Flipping between her workshop an incarceration in a psychiatric hospital, her demise is worked into her art through swift lighting changes in this intimate performance space, where the audience become her characters. Slipping into trills of French every now and then, there are elements light humour amongst all her anguish as she performs the passionate and heart-wrenching tale of “the dream that was my life, now a nightmare”.
Gaël Le Cornec paints her own picture of the anguished artist with sympathy and dedication of a woman exploited for her art by mentor and lover Rodin to whom she took up residency as his muse. But although she is an enchanting performer the piece is written, directed and performed by Le Cornec but this is to its detriment as it teetered self-indulgence. The show could have benefitted from distance between director and performer, although I appreciate how apt this decision is for the subject matter. She dances, sings and acts but is no triple and at times her crazed episodes were tedious with unnecessary emphasis placed on dancing and encouraging the audience to sing with her. I found the show most engaging when it is truest to the artist’s story. It is enjoyable enough to watch, true to the extraordinary artist who I had previously unheard of but not ground-breaking material and a handful of people did leave during the show; read from it what you will but my advice is read no further than this review.
6:45pm (runs until 27th August)
Based on Molière’s play, Don Juan converses with a Devil in a dinner jacket to talk his way out of damnation. Past lovers appear as he recounts tales of his conquests in mini-scenes which have streaks of comedy, but whilst elevating Don Juan as a narcissist and successful womaniser, it does little for feminist gender politics.
It either reveals more about my attention span, or this show’s failure to keep me fully engaged that my mind began to worry more about what the lyrics to Britney Spears’ ‘Womaniser’ were, singing along in my head to odd bursts of choreography used to mark the numerous sexual encounters of the Infamous Don Juan. It is also unusual theatre etiquette to be filled with an overwhelming urge to take a face wipe to the cast’s black and white daubed visage. Jack-in-the-box Productions invoked such an odd desire, but my restraint kept intact. This distracting aesthetic felt very unnecessary and bore the markings of crudely shaped amateur dramatics, which would otherwise have came across on a more professional playing field. It didn’t help this cause, that I observed some rather unfortunate pink hues of sunburn across the corseted girls shoulders; a tell-tale sign of having been flyering on the mile in costume in the freak Scottish sunshine. Further distractions flooded the theatre in its unfortunately warm temperature; fitting to the hellish setting but Beelzebub’s dripping face only strengthened my bizarre desire to wash them.
The production felt very timid in its treatment of the salacious nature of the stories, hiding behind the random twirls of contemporary dance. Thankfully the actor playing the Devil carried the performance with his manic energetic interruptions, though a character contextually relevant to the Joker; made famous in the Batman series. He was worth watching, but I expect you’d witness the same redeeming qualities when you accept a flyer in the street.
Two immaculate young women are their own prisoners in the confines of their immaculate apartment, stuck in a routine of resentment and Ramen noodles. Through a semi-improvised dialogue, an interesting premise is unwrapped as mysterious red boxes appear around the apartment. Dressed in fifties red white and blue attire; one draped in stars, the other in stripes, their subtle commentary on western women and materialism had the makings of an underworked sketch show but as a piece of theatre, not so much.
The women sit around discussing beauty regimes and share bricks of plain instant noodles at meal times. When a gold box is produced, like Avon reps, they suddenly turn on the audience as if in a perverse shopping channel program. This absurd flip is the only other human contact they have, besides the occasional phone call from telemarketing salesmen.
Their bickering conversation is wearisome, especially as their talents are illmatched. Adriana Colón’s sarcastic character Bea comes across as very Miranda Sings (youtube comedic singing sensation) despite corpsing terribly after breaking her broom, still manages to steal the limelight in this duo.
There is potential in this show, which i predict to strengthen as the run gets under way and if they had a larger audience to feed off, these comedic Stepford wives could pull Box off the shelf.
11:05pm (run ends 11th August)
With a strong start, I had high hopes for Anon(ymous), but these soon drifted away with blue billowing sheets cast into the air to create ocean waves (yes…that old trick). To be fair to them, it actually worked quite well at times, but it was vastly overused. Pepperdine University focus on a story of a young refugee’s journey with both saddening and amusing encounters, but their company’s talents were misplaced, and do not do Naomi Lizuka’s script the justice it perhaps deserves. At times, there were stronger glimpses of individual cast talents, but these actors’ stage time was stunted. Why they had not put their best foot forward escapes me and Dino Nicandros‘ brief but noteworthy performance as a blind man questions whether it is actually the director whose artistic vision is impaired.
To measure a production through a physical bodily response is a useful gauge of a performance’s relationship with its audience. But with this piece I found myself in an amusing conflict with a strong emotive opening scene and the air conditioning machine. Well placed in the audience to receive its cool breeze, my goosebumps were at times deceptive in working out my physiological response to the performance. And as the show progressed, the ventilation won. There are certainly elements of the production which if taken out of context could stand alone on their theatricality, air temperature aside, but this would make for watery eyed watching; as if you blinked, you’d miss them. On one occasion I actually caught myself rolling my eyes and looking away from the stage in response to the ensemble’s repetitions of the statement: “My name is Anonymous”. Special mention must go to Bryan Powell for the music arrangements which delivered the beautiful mournful lullaby that gave the beginning moments their strength.
It is an unusual experience when sat in a theatre to feel for the technical team for having to repeatedly endure a show like this and leave feeling lucky for only having to be disappointed by it once. With a handful of charming episodes and interesting, if contrived relationships, this was one of those awkward seat-shuffling, bum-numbing shows which suffered from being overly long with not enough substance.