Should I Stay or Should I Go[author-post-rating] (2/5 Stars)

Two girls and two boys meet by chance in a bar and decide to go to Paris. The twist: the protagonist, Matty, appeals to the audience to make his decisions for him. When Matty needs our help, he gives us two choices, and the loudest shout from the audience wins.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?, performed at The Warren for Brighton Fringe, had a commendable cast from Tea Fuelled Theatre who worked well together, with moments of compelling tension and chemistry as a dark secret threatens to bubble ominously through the initial carefree feel of the story. Simon Every’s Matty, the relentless buffoon who refuses to come to terms with the mistakes of his past, was countered well by an exasperated Steven (played by Chris Heany) who gave an excellent performance as the brother brought to the end of his tether by Matty’s immaturity.

The soundtrack, with apt choices from The Clash’s back catalogue, was upbeat and provided good energy. A minimalist performance – propless save for the creative use of a few chairs – was given colour by clever soundscapes such as the background chatter of a bar, a car engine and the sounds of a busy city.

Despite a clearly talented cast, the work was let down by its lowbrow humour, with a lot of crude jokes and name-calling. The overall flow of the narrative was fast-paced but occasionally felt somewhat hindered by the need to stop, turn the house lights up and ask the audience to make a choice. Of course, this was the point, but more often than not there was the feeling that it was resented, not welcomed.

There’s nothing wrong with breaking the fourth wall occasionally, but this particular audience just wasn’t on board. Mostly, when presented with choices, the audience plumped for the second, as though realising they had left themselves with no option after being too nervous to shout out the first time. Although really they shouldn’t be blamed when the most exciting choice (of about four instances in which one was offered) was ‘Shall I stop and get Bombay mix, or save my money for the arcade?’. With tenuous plot devices such as the ‘reboot’, which took the story back to the beginning, giving the impression that the same outcome would have been reached regardless of what the audience had gone with, Should I Stay or Should I Go? sadly proved that the theatre is no place for a ‘choose your own adventure’ story.

Should I Stay or Should I Go played at The Warren as part of the Brighton Fringe. For more information and tickets, see the Brighton Fringe website.