Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: Tape, Old Red Lion

Review: Tape, Old Red Lion

Published in Time Out, 20.04.2010

In a Michigan motel room, vindictive idler Vin orchestrates an impromptu high-school reunion. However, this is no time for genial reminiscing, given that soon after graduation his best buddy Jon date-raped Vin’s teenage sweetheart Amy.

A dark waster-comedy, Tape drips with the dregs of the American dream. Its elements verge towards being archetypal – narcotic-fuelled no-hopers in the middle of nowhere – and Stephen Belber peppers the fraught scenario with flashy turns of phrase as dry as the desert itself. Vin, for example, is “too high to get high and mighty” and has “a tendency to act in a phallic fashion.” It’s easy to see why Hollywood sunk its chops into Belber’s script – Richard Linklater’s film had a cast that included Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.

Suddenly the problem beneath Yaller Skunk’s toothless production becomes all too clear: it smacks of British reserve. Where it ought to swagger, Tape is stilted. Director Julia Stubbs misses the sweltering atmospher and, as such, never makes us sweat. Her cast, through no fault of their own, are simply too ordinary to meet the demands of the text.

While Belber’s cutthroat comedy is fierce enough to hold attention, this is never more than an approximation. Sadly, that makes Blockbusters the better option.

Photograph: Gabriella Restelli

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