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The Revenge Fantasy Club
Published on Thursday, 06 June 2013

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3 stars

Metrodeco (venue website)
4-8, 12 May, 7:30pm-8:30pm
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

 Warning: Contains strong language.
 Suitable for age 16+ only.

You know that old chestnut about a woman scorned? It forms the premise of The Revenge Fantasy Club, which sees two angry women – Bridget and Shelley – meet at a corner table in the Metrodeco café, to plan revenge on their mutual one-time paramour James. The banter’s witty and the performances are strong, though I felt the play would benefit from little more substance and darkness to its plot.

The interplay between the mismatched Bridget and Shelley is a seam of humour that runs through the piece, and the tensions created by the two women’s conspiracy are a source of genuine drama, too.  Bridget in particular is a fine creation, well-executed by actor Jo Bowis: posh, poised and precise, she’s rather easily shocked by the less-than-classy Shelley.  The back-story of the titular Revenge Fantasy Club is fed in nicely, with Shelley’s induction into the society proving a natural opportunity to deliver exposition with a deft and inconspicuous hand.

For much of the play, there’s a pleasing ambiguity about what’s really happened to the detested James – although the word “fantasy” in the title was perhaps something of a spoiler, pre-empting what could have been an interesting plot twist for me.  The ending, to my mind, left a little too much unresolved, though I’m sure the lack of closure is entirely intentional.  The play concludes with a big question left hanging – and while you think that you know the answer, there’s that nagging little worry that the truth might be much worse than it seems.

Overall though, I felt the script could use a little more darkness.  The sinister side of the women’s fantasies is never really exploited, and a few nicely chilling moments – for example, when the two women raise a toast “to the fury” – don’t develop very far.  Towards the end, quite a lot of the humour revolves around silly chit-chat, which I found something of a waste when there was plenty of substance left to explore.

But for all those quibbles, this is a solidly entertaining play, full of bitchy put-downs and recurring comic themes.  It fits well, too, in the corner of a café: I’m a big supporter of theatre in unconventional spaces, and playwright Mark C Hewitt has intelligently built a piece which would make sense in coffee-shops and tea-rooms the length and breadth of the land.  He hasn’t quite unleashed the furies of hell, but he’s let loose a good few belly-laughs – and a couple of intriguing questions about the value of revenge, and its effects on those who thirst for it.

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