An intriguing trio of stories about lost young men from rising star Rob Hayes
This review is from 'This Will End Badly's run atthe 2014 Edinburgh Fringe. The cast has not changed
‘Awkward Conversations with Animals I’ve Fucked’. It’s an attention grabbing title, isn’t it? Rob Hayes’s bestial tragicomedy didn’t beat about the bush when it debuted at the Fringe last year – the show really did comprise a series of post-coital chats with some of man’s best friends-with-benefits. Hayes’s 2015 Fringe follow-up, ‘This Will End Badly’, is a bit more demure in title, but the core themes remain the same. Three unnamed young men, each exhibiting some form of mental or physical imbalance, bare their souls in the wake of a failed relationship.
There’s the predatory pick-up artist, a master manipulator and steely strategist who’s always on the verge of simmering rage. There’s the OCD neurotic, who’s worryingly well-versed in suicide statistics. And there’s the guy who hasn’t shat once in the 11 days since his break-up, who won’t go to the doctor in case this new form of extreme constipation gets named after him. Hayes’s fondness for pairing pathos with profanity is still alive and well.
Performer Ben Whybrow takes on all three roles with unflinching intensity – instead of fluidly transitioning from one to another, he cuts abruptly between characters, often mid-sentence. It’s a magnetic performance, though the regional accents that differentiate each character – one Scottish and one each from northern and southern England – sometimes lack distinction.
Hayes’s stories are involving, but they remain unconnected, their arcs never intersecting or synchronising, so it’s unclear why they’re gathered together at all. Clive Judd’s direction is also flawed: the bare, flickering lightblub is a bit of a hackneyed motif, as is the on-stage toilet that’s only of passing relevance, even in the constipation storyline. ‘This Will End Badly’ by no means lives up to its title, but it never coheres into something beyond a collection of decent ideas.