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Sweet Nothings | Barons Court Theatre

Romance comes in many forms and any moment can be the one that sweeps you off your feet… but what if that sweeping motion is what makes you realise you want your feet to be grounded? Sweet Nothings encompasses that concept with four short comedies about romances that end with everyone being alone. Instead of giving us an hour of unpacking a singular story, Raegan Payne delivers four individual tales of heartbreak, self-realisation and exaggerated confessions.

We are initially addressed by a projection, coming to us as a silent narrator tasked with introducing us to these separate worlds that are otherwise connected in no way. After delivering a cheeky line about turning our phones off, we enter part one, In a Hole. All five cast members are present as they surround the only opening to a collapsed mineshaft.

Three women, with their husbands trapped inside the mine, a reporter and a camera man set the standard of a fast-paced comedic performance in the longest of the four parts. Letters are gradually being sent to the surface, with the miners making their final confessions before the inevitable, such as one cheating on their wife whilst another has been selling drugs secretly. Niall Burns does a fantastic job as the reporter reading these letters - had he not performed in later scenes, I would have assumed they cast a reporter specifically for this.

The following short, Things Unsaid, is arguably the strongest of the four with snappy dialogue and sharp delivery. Bill (Burns) and Margaret (Colette O’Brien) are on a date but the fun is had by the fact that the audience can see and hear their internal monologues, portrayed by Jack Crutch and Lily Rogers respectively. The chemistry between the group is unrivalled, each taking turns to steal the scene. It is a beautiful balance that creates a harmony of humorous repartee.

Whilst being hilarious, each short captures the emotional consequences of the events transpiring. The steadiness of writing short, funny, gripping stories is a credit to Payne’s skill with a pen (or keyboard) and the evening as a whole felt like a theatre production instead of a sketch show.

However, presenting four works back-to-back can also play against you as we are inclined to compare what we are watching, with an expectation being set after the first performance. The third short, Ill-informed, is about a terrible stalker (Crutch) confessing his love for an upset woman (Rogers) on her way home. The scene has its lighter moments and is performed well, but unfortunately, the harshness behind some of the supposedly comedic lines did not invite the laughs that felt expected. Had the story focused more on the themes and less on trying to force the laughs, it would have been one of the stronger parts of the evening. Part four, Sweet Nothings, brought the jocular vibe back, but that only made part three feel more out of place.

It is difficult making one brilliant play, let alone four, so a great deal of praise must be given to Payne for sharing multiple stories in one night. Individually, they all work well and have the potential to entertain audiences no matter when they are staged - they feel timeless. However, when put together, they run the risk of affecting another’s standard by way of natural comparison, which is an even harder obstacle to overcome. Nonetheless, the performance remains entertaining and not one story is unnecessarily dragged out, which is the key to making a great comedy. Sweet Nothings runs at Barons Court Theatre until 6th April - for more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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