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Bitches Down Under! review at Above the Stag, London – ‘barbed humour’

Scene from Bitches Down Under! at Above the Stag, London. Photo: Gaz Photography Scene from Bitches Down Under! at Above the Stag, London. Photo: Gaz Photography
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Martin Blackburn’s first two plays, Alright Bitches! and Bitches Ahoy! showed a strong ear for comedy and a keen eye for characterisation.

The final instalment of his trilogy, Bitches Down Under!, reunites the familiar characters for an Antipodean adventure on the eve of Sidney Mardi Gras.

In order to pull off a trilogy of this nature, you need a devoted audience. As a stand-alone piece, it’s rather thin, but if you have seen the previous two, as many members of its audience will have, then it provides a rather tidy, almost elliptical conclusion.

Blackburn’s written style may have more in common with Tony Warren than Oscar Wilde, but beneath the barbed humour and coarse commentary on gay culture, there are reflections on family and acceptance peppered throughout the play. Director Andrew Beckett is a dab hand at realising comedy and while there are a few structural missteps this time around, the punch-lines – both verbal and visual – are spot on.

Ethan Chapples as ageing party boy Garth and Lucas Livesey as the acerbic Max bicker tirelessly in roles they originally created, their friendship providing the anchor to the trilogy.

Hannah Vesty also returns as Pam, the outspoken social worker who at least gets her man this time, in the shape of Tom Mann’s adorable wide-eyed Aussie Scott. Blackburn’s comic style may not appeal to everybody, but in a theatrical landscape awash with thought-provoking gay drama, it’s refreshing to see that gay comedy also has its place.

Bitches Ahoy! review at Above the Stag, London – ‘predictable but entertaining’

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Verdict
Familiar faces and farcical situations make for a satisfying conclusion to the Bitches trilogy  
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