Review by Allison Browning
THE announcement was enticing at the beginning of the show.
A well-dressed, witty usher bellowed a lovely speech in support
of the small, cosy Pleasance Theatre, including lines such
as 'purchase as much as possible, each ice cream keeps a member
of staff emloyed for two and a half minutes'.
If this guy isn't a performer, he should be. Unfortaunately,
this wasn't a sign of things to come in The Black Sheep's production
of The Wine Tasters.
After wonderful introductions and many laughs, in both the foyer
and theatre upon the audience's entry, the show went downhill
The Wine Tasters is an attempt to include its audience
into the show, making them the students in a introduction to wine
The concept is so original and it started with a bang, the audience
being welcomed to the occasion one by one with some amusing improvisation.
In the first 15 minutes, the actors had the audience in the palms
of their hands, introducing the 'adopt a grape scheme', and their
adoptive grape 'Billy'. Unfortunately, Billy was milked to death,
and, by the end of the show, he was no longer such an amusing
Initally, the two charcters were amazing to watch, beginning
a subltle parody of wine apreciation.
Before long, the subtlety was taken to blatancy, with unusual
violence involving a smashing glass, a metal serving tray (ironically
embellished with the Fosters label) and a wooden mallet.
This all came a little suddenly and, before long, the show seemed
less about the class itself, and more about a sub-plot that didn't
quite work in the way it may have been intended.
The Black Sheep have come up with a great concept, but, unfortunately,
it was lost within the unnecessary excesses in the plot, that
came with what could have been a tight and simple show.
Certainly, with some re-working and going back to basics, it
has the potential to bowl audiences over.
The Wine Tasters is great for a few laughs but the overplayed
moments later in the show, along with a degenerative plot, definitely
don't do the overall concept justice.
The Wine Tasters, at The Latchmere Theatre on January 16 &
17 (7.30pm/tickets £5); and The Pleasance on January 23,
24, 30 & 31 (7.45pm/tickets £5). Price of ticket includes
a complimentary glass of wine.