Between Ten and Six at the Leicester Square Theatre.
Between 10 and 6 explores those awkward houseshare moments and amplifies these to the extreme. The piece is a bit of a head melt but the action isn’t particularly gripping. We witness a montage of cocaine-taking, masturbating, raving madness… & several murders. One of which is the play. At the Leicester Square Theatre.
Anxiety-ridden and waif-like Charlie (Chris Mayo) has just moved into a new house, sharing with a somewhat strange landlord called Ed (Owen Llewellyn). The show opens with the ominous sound of a slowly ticking clock. Charlie is perched on a seat trying (and failing) to relax in his new surroundings; and it soon becomes apparent that his flatmate is mental. Ed is waiting for a package (due for delivery “Between Ten and Six”) and demands that Charlie waits with him, subsequently ruining Charlie’s dinner plans with his girlfriend. From there, things go very wrong. There is a montage of cocaine-taking, masturbating, raving madness… followed by several murders.
Standard Wednesday night viewing.
Firstly, the acting is okay but the protagonist (who carries most of the action) is one of the weaker links. Although Llewellyn masters those crazy eyes, his portrayal of a madman lacks substance – one could say it is one-dimensional & wooden. For instance, most of Ed’s lines are accompanied by a heavy sigh; so ingrained as a dramatic “tool” that the actor continues sighing even when unconscious.
There are other elements that don’t meet the professional standard you’d expect from a central London fringe venue. When Charlie dies, his corpse miraculously moves – his arm gets a life of its own and flails about in order to keep the trousers hoiked up. I’m sorry but dead people can’t stop their trousers falling down. Also, if his pants fell off that would have given us a chuckle… why hold back??
Opting for a caricature / cardboard performance just doesn’t work for this kind of play. Such writing demands a great sense of comic timing and, unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The characters lack believability & the actors lack stage presence (except Mayo, who is strangely endearing) and by the end of the play, it’s not just the characters that have been murdered: the play is also a victim. The cast members do have potential and could be good if they had better material to work with, but alas – it all seems a bit GCSE.
Secondly, the writing is not to a professional standard. The concept certainly has scope to be funny but it isn’t – it’s occasionally boring, frequently slow and, instead of amusing, it’s irritating. Writer Chris Mayo probably has the potential to become a successful playwright, but needs a few more years on the circuit; as an actor, Mayo is definitely one of the stronger contenders in the piece.
The script contains many inconsistencies. Who goes out to dinner at 4pm? The characters keep referring to “tonight” – but it is set during the day. Cue confusion. During a fast-forward sequence of drug taking, the characters get battered, and yet minutes later they appear stone cold sober. From what I’ve read, I’m pretty sure cocaine and whiskey would alter the mind… but all we get is Charlie admitting to a headache.
There are also a couple of unnecessary monologues; Charlie talks to the unconscious Ed for far too long, and it’s pretty cringeworthy witnessing those shoe-horned in serious elements. It just seems out of place. And then Ed talks to the dead Charlie for… ages. Despite depicting a hostage situation, Garrett Millerick’s direction doesn’t allow for much dramatic tension.
Thirdly, the show has about as much pace as the ticking clock. It feels like we’re sitting there between ten and six. Thankfully, Between Ten and Six is not eight hours long – all the action takes place in an hour, and that’s long enough. There are too many gruelling pauses, silences, sighs and the slowness weakens any potential humour. If the action picked up pace, it could be much better.
I can usually find the positive or promise within a piece of work, but I’m struggling this time.