CandyKing Theatre produces classic plays alongside new writing, as in their double-bill The Serious Business of Choosing a Mate. New writing from Jeremy Green in Fairytale and Anton Chekhov's rarely seen The Proposal form a light-hearted, amusing, slightly uneven evening. There are romantic misunderstandings, dashed expectations, a little slapstick and a long, sideways look at love and relationships, with no certainty that a knight in shining armour is any bloody good after all.
Fairytale is a traditional Princess in a tower storyline, rudely interrupted by a soldier from our grubby world of conflict and 'liberation'. The sparring between Emma West and Brett Harris contrasting his military bravado with her annoyance going off-script recalls Shrek (not a bad thing) and the two rise to their culture clash with gusto. However, the comedy is diluted somewhat by interjections on modern war, coming across as muddled in terms of intent. Is it portraying romance as a myth, 'liberation' as another word for 'invasion', what women want vs. what men want?
Though the script lacks sharpness, the cast are enjoyable, especially Alexander D'Andrea as the traditional prince swooping in halfway to vanquish the soldier and seeming to rescue the day. Then he reveals he follows the Dragon, not a beast but an invisible entity within him... so is he saving her for love, or for his cult? Romance is not dead but it's nearly there.
The Proposal is far more focused and the cast are considerably more confident in tackling the power play, comic misunderstandings and enjoyable, irresistible slapstick of a botched marriage proposal. Brett Harris as Ivan Vassilevitch clutches at his chest, crying out what lovers say - 'My heart! My heart!' while clearly having a stroke, which nicely underlines the absurdity of the situation. It's delightful to watch and a well-chosen counterpoint to Fairytale. Choosing a mate may be a serious business, but in this double-bill, it can be funny too.
The Serious Business of Choosing a Mate, until 3 May at the Pleasance Theatre. For more info and to book tickets, go to the Pleasance Theatre website.