Review: Modern Life is Rubbish – FRUIT


Published: Wednesday 12th November 2014 by Paul Nickerson - Writer

Comments (2)

As a Russell Brand hater I wasn’t especially suited to reviewing ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’ – the new play by the Middle Child Theatre Company. Robust in its message – the play is designed to provoke strong reactions.

It starts with Shannon (Alice Beaumont) who’s dissatisfied with her life. She meets up with a group of disenfranchised twenty somethings from all walks of life and together they undergo a near religious conversion to the political philosophies recently espoused by one Russell Brand.

Part performance, part gig, there follows a modern take on the traditions of the cabaret show, complete with a live band and MC.

The play shows a set of AA style meetings where the roaming MC shouts out political and progressively violent and sexual themes to our slowly brainwashed group.

Occasionally a message pops up on the screen displaying an extract from Russell Brand’s new book ‘Revolution’.

As the group becomes more militant their sexual desire for one another rises. They descend into injecting heroin (which they believe should be freely available to all). Eventually the crushing responsibility (not the idea) of revolution means they step back from the brink and decide things are pretty much fine as they are.

Before the play began the audience was asked whether we thought the world was ok, or if things could be better. At the end of the play it was announced that 84% of us were happy so we all got told off for being stuck in our ways. The MC duly announced there would be no revolution – phew.

The sentiment in the play is true, apathy is stubbornly attractive.  However ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’ is like Russell Brand and Russell Brand is like Marmite. You are going to love it or hate it.

Angry from start to finish and devoid of characterisation and dialogue, the show is only saved by the thoughtful performances of many of the cast.  The super talented Alice Beaumont (as Shannon) and Edward Cole (as Andrew) negotiate the endless soliloquies and baffling plot with incredible patience and skill.

The characters are initially pitched to us as being from different social backgrounds but this obvious interest point is soon forgotten and the writing misses an opportunity to offer any kind of variation. Despite the excellent acting the characters eventually merge into one, often ranting, often thrusting and eventually annoying group.

If the aim of this play, written by Laura Turner and Directed by Paul Smith, was to parody the endless optimism of musical cabaret then it is a success. However as the play progresses, the lack of characterisation and plot means the play all too quickly becomes a political rant. At this point none believers will lose interest.

It’s a clever subject to write about and the concept of what has been attempted is a very good starting point for further writing. The language is kept pleasingly straightforward and effective whereas other writers might have gotten carried away.

But as it winds up, the conclusions are unclear so the play lacks a thoughtful, honest and objective examination of the new left inspired by Russell Brand.

The musical side of things, directed by James Frewer, was excellent and full credit should go to the musicians and singers. However, the production is too loud and the actors have to use microphones giving a shouty effect and often making the dialogue inaudible. Not very useful with a storyline that dots and darts in all directions.

It may be that if this technical issue was fixed then we could hear what was going on and the characterisation and objective examination of the subject might have emerged more clearly?

One very low point was when the play laughs at rape, Ebola, AIDS and cancer in an attempt to be ironic. The scene comes quite out of context with the rest of the play and appears egocentric rather than anything else. A bit like Russell himself.

The bottom line is if you like Russell Brand and aspire to his left wing political revolution you’ll love this firebrand of a musical parody. If you don’t, you won’t. Russell Brand has over 7.5 million followers so there will be many people who do.

Rating: 3/5 – Highly recommended to people who love Russell Brand

Type of play: Musical Parody

Duration: 2 hours

Tickets: Runs until 15th November visit Hull Box Office 

Published: Wednesday 12th November 2014 by Paul Nickerson - Writer

Comments (2)
  • wilson

    ‘Parklife’ !

  • Jenny

    Went to see this and couldn’t agree more with your review

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