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Forever 27
Published on Monday, 14 May 2012

3 stars

The Old Courtroom (venue website)
10-13 May, 9:00pm-10:00pm
Reviewed by Catherine Meek

 Suitable for age 18+ only.
 Warning: Contains flashing lights.
 Warning: Contains strong language.
 World Premiere.

Amy Winehouse’s tragic death provoked tributes in prolific double-page newspaper spreads, which made as much of her entry to the “Twenty Seven Club” - talented artists like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, who all died at 27 - as they did of her short life’s award-winning work.  Our character here, Carl, muses on these “Forever 27” heroes, and is provoked into reviewing his own life.  What if he was forever 27?  What would he have to show for his time on Earth?

Believing that, if there’s not much to show for it, then he might as well be dead too, he gives himself a deadline: if things haven’t improved by his next – 27th – birthday, he will sacrifice his life for a “beautiful” death. He takes himself – and us – on a guided journey of his story so far, recalling “coming out” to his Nan, and sleeping with a girl he shouldn’t have even fancied at a drunken party. He turns out hopeful when he meets Nathan and falls in love - only to discover the hard way that pinning his hopes on another person to provide his happiness is futile.

A new job in the coroner’s office teaches a second lesson: its files are full of unfortunates who meet relatively young and tragic ends, and don’t become glorious heroes.

Carl is an entertaining diva, inevitably relying on the exaggerated mannerisms which betray his camp character to provide drama. With a weaker script this might have smacked of stereotype, equivalent to his leopard-print bedspread. Happily, Sarah Evans’s script is a thoughtful and tightly written one, which Patrick Seymour, as Carl, does proud. He evidently puts his all into this one-man performance, which proceeds at a pace to keep our interest and make up for it not being an extraordinary story.

One criticism: the show is punctuated with regular calls from Mum, her voice resounding loud and clear as she records an answerphone message.  However, the effect of repeated plays on her difficulty with the answer machine, which had her leaving each message twice or more, was tedious as well as passé.  I wouldn’t have missed it if left out altogether, especially since Carl never replies.

Although there’s nothing overtly different about this play, it’s very well performed, and engaging and entertaining right to the end. Importantly, it’s honest, and doesn’t resort to cheap tricks to shock. In a jam-packed Fringe programme, to see Forever 27 is a choice worth making.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.