Baggage is a play in desperate need of editing. The premise is sort of fine - the perils of internet dating and the structuring has a Neil LaBute tinge. But the execution is too slow, the play too long and the numerous scenes too short - the latter a curse on those who see most of their drama on television or in film.
Richard Mylan (Adam) and Nicola Stapleton (Sandy) in Baggage at the Arts Theatre, London Photo: Tristram Kenton
The result is a play that drags along, its plot strung out and populated by characters who are either a cliche or too unexceptional for the stage. These are problems that could be ironed out by an experienced producer or an untethered director. But writers John Muirhead and Mike Charlesworth produced this themselves - never a good sign on a first effort.
Considering this is a first effort the cast is impressive. Suzanne Shaw, as vampy fashion industry something Geraldine, lessens the blow of the production with her understanding of comic timing. She really is a versatile actress.
Nicola Stapleton and Richard Mylan have a harder task as internet-crossed lovers Sandy and Adam. Their characters, while pleasant and quite ‘real’ in their dialogue and interaction - something for which the writers deserve praise - are under written. ‘Normal’ doesn’t play on stage. Even the everyman character has to be written bigger just to avoid being swamped by the space. The actors fill their roles, but those roles aren’t big enough to fill the stage.
For Charlie De’Ath the opposite problem - his boorish womaniser is cliched and outdated, a relic of Men Behaving Badly or the Loaded generation. It’s a shame, as his character could go on an interesting emotional journey, but De’Ath is relegated to spouting quick one-liners more suited to a 1990s Channel Four comedy.
Baggage could be a decent touring production, with cuts. As it stands, there’s just too much baggage.