Americat: A Love Story… Really? by Scott Kettner
Tristan Bates Theatre (Short walk from Covent Garden) until 16th February
60 minutes, no interval
£10/ £8 (concessions)
Veronica Stein, 15th February, 2019.
Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy follows girl to a different continent to be with girl.
This is the concept of Americat, the real-life translatlantic love story of writer/director/star Scott Kettner and Amy Elliott, who plays Ashley, a characterisation of Amy herself.
What occurs during Americat is quite difficult to describe. What begins as a highly metatheatrical account of a true story seems to devolve into a mess of experimental theatre, opening number included. There appears to be an even ratio of plot holes to framing devices…and there are many of both. Jeff (Amin Ali), the ‘director’ of the piece, who sits with the audience and gives repetitive monologues about his history with the ‘real’ Scott as well as apparently improvised interjections- the actors corpse more than once- does little more than disrupt the pace of the piece. It appears by the end of the piece that the play being performed for us may be a figment of one of the character’s imaginations. Then that seems to be a lie; unfortunately one can only speak in hypotheticals reviewing Americat because they cannot speak with any certainty about the actual events of the plot. The fact that it’s a true story with the individuals discussed as part of the cast make it all the more difficult to determine what story is being told- and what commentary they are trying to make about it.
Perhaps the writing would help, but unfortunately it leans towards the sappy and never heads in a thematic direction. Flipping between slapstick and melodramatic monologues, it keeps the audience uneasy. The most well developed section is the one that seems most irrelevant: a sequence with no dramatic payoff about drama school auditions. George Eggay is a bright light as his well caricatured adjudicators, and with Christian Alifoe and Rory Grant as the two ensemble players, the three are the funniest and most polished of the cast. The others flounder under the confusing heap of unfulfilled stylistic expectations. For what it’s worth, they all appear to be having a great time, even when there is an air of understanding that bits aren’t working.
The best theatre is based in truth, not in attempts to try edgy storytelling devices. What could have been a firsthand account of the genuine drama of transcontinental relationships is a missed opportunity.
Kid: Scott Kettner
Ashley: Amy Elliot
Jeff: Amin Ali
Teacher 1,2,3,4: George Eggay
Chuck: AJ Jeremiah
Buff Guy/Scott: Christian Alifoe
Richard/Gary: Rory Grant
Director: Scott Kettner & Company
Choreographer: Rachel Birch-Lawson