If you’re a randy young lad out on the town hoping to pull but you need a handy guide about what not to do then see this play. It was presumably written and observed from bitter experience (by one of the performers Colin O’ Donnell). This straight from the horses mouth tell it like it is comedy drama is fresh, raw and painfully honest. I’m in my 40’s now but this show catapulted me back into a myriad of memories best left under a selection of heavy and hard to move rocks.
On the plus side it was good to be reminded that my own fumbling follies of yesteryear are common universal experiences rather than unique collections of profound ineptitude. Underscoring this is the shows unseen narrator, the godlike booming voice of David Edenborough. As the name suggests he’s part David Attenborough, part Desmond Morris, scrutinising the mating rituals of youngsters on a night out as they attempt to woo the opposite sex.
A nice touch is the opening scene which comes full circle at the very end, one of the few moments of gentleness and hope in the whole experience. It helps to set the tone particularly in terms of how the men of the piece will be thinking as one of the four not so intrepid heroes of the play sits next to a girl on a bus. We hear his inner monologue as he agonises over how to strike up a conversation, analysing his own thought processes as well her body language. In the end it comes to nothing. It’s painfully sad, true and very funny.
But if silent sobriety on a bus doesn't work then perhaps some equally useless mates, some Dutch courage and a bit of macho bravado might do the trick. And so the show’s characters drift from pub to pub, try to get into nightclubs and despite good intentions act like drooling self-conscious lecherous idiots, ready to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at the last second.
This is a dusk till dawn night-in-the-life of a series of intertwining figures, played out in a series of mini interlinking vignettes. As the night wears on, some have more success than others but its predominantly a snakes and ladders game of moving up and down the board as one thoughtless blunder, one ill timed remark, one lack of basic psychology can send you from square 99 back down to square 2.
If anyone comes out on top (no pun or innuendo intended) for the most part it’s the women. They’re a lot more decent and decently portrayed than the menfolk whose timid or over the top approaches and crass buffoonery make the women roll their eyes to the heavens but occasionally are won over when the bloke accidentally gets it right.
It’s very well written, probably because it’s just the truth. Its horrible to admit but I recognised myself in many of the scenarios and have witnessed plenty of it having worked in bars and clubs for years. It’s amazing how endlessly tedious and foolish little moments can be turned into an entertaining piece of observational theatre.
If I had any criticisms at all I thought the narrator figure should actually have been there in the flesh, perhaps offering his musings from a suitable vantage point. Also the transitions between the individual scenes needed tightening up. There was often a sense of ‘this bits over, whens the next bit going to start syndrome.'
But this is merely trifling teething trouble. The truth is Colin O' Donnell and the Coppers Uncovered team are rising young stars in their field. This piece has real passion in it, energetically played out by a talented cast and the bottom line was that I both recoiled in embarrassment and laughed my ass off for much of it. Like the real experience of hitting the town when you’re young, Coppers Uncovered is a lot of fun.