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 The Theatreguide.London Review


Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover At Christmas
Bush Theatre December 2008

The Bush Theatre's Christmas cracker is this special holiday edition of a comic revue that was a hit earlier this year, a bemused look at how hard it can sometimes be to say goodbye.

With contributions by a half-dozen writers - Leah Chillery, Ben Ellis, Stacey Gregg, Lucy Kirkwood, Ben Schiffer and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm - and performed by the attractive and energetic quartet of Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Claire Keelan, Ralf Little and Michelle Terry, it's a fun alternative to the sweetness of most other Yuletide fare.

And so we get the revenge fantasy of the girl seduced and abandoned, the fellow working up his courage to join a girl on the dance floor only to feel betrayed when someone gets there first, a guy dissing a girl in rap only to have her turn around and rap back about his shortcomings.

Running gags include a married couple who repeatedly try to break up, right up to their fiftieth anniversary, and a hapless lad trying to get a breaking-up word in edgewise while his girl plots out their entire future together.

Sprinkled among the comic and acerbic bits are a few more serious and touching moments showing the pain of being dumped, like the woman who gets the message by text, or the one whose lover deserts her in hospital.

The Christmas touch is actually minimal, consisting mainly of an opening medley of skewed carols ('I'm dreaming of a white mistress') and a scene of Joseph trying to convince himself he hasn't been cuckolded.

But the eighty minutes race by, the guilty pleasure of the laughs tempered nicely by the quieter moments. The show is being performed twice nightly, and makes an excellent start or finish to a West London evening.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Fifty Ways - Bush 2008