Same, Same But Different

“The show falls slightly short of its potential"

Set in a charming studio at Brixton House, this production creates an intimate atmosphere with an abstract screen used by the set designer to split the stage. While this design choice reduces the stage space, it enhances the sense of connection between the performers and the audience. The limited movement from stage left to right, and occasionally off-stage, adds to the intimacy and brings us closer to the characters.  However, the show falls slightly short of its potential.

Within this beautifully ironic play, there are moments of comedy timed to perfection, leaving the audience in fits of laughter. The show features the two writers as Jesse (Em Thane) and Cam (Megs Kumari) who navigate the intricacies of their characters' journey. Over the course of little over an hour, they take us through the ups and downs of their characters' lives, from meeting and getting married to starting a family and facing the inevitable arguments that arise. However, these transitions feel rushed and lacking in depth, failing to fully engage the audience throughout the performance.

One commendable aspect is the play's focus on characters from the LGBTQ+ community. Yet, upon closer examination, the whininess and argumentative structure proves confusing.   I was only aware this was intentionally ironic after reading “… force them to confront their own biases” in the programme notes. Lines like "what if our baby turns out straight?" and "queers can be doctors too," fail to effectively challenge biases. Instead, it comes across as contrived and heavy-handed.

The characters' struggles with family acceptance, while simultaneously rejecting each other's families due to past actions, further contributing to the play's overall lack of coherence. An attempt at exploring personal identity unfolds when one character receives an invitation to a gender reveal party, accompanied by a note acknowledging their identity and expressing understanding if they opt not to attend. However, this moment fails to resonate, and the characters' quest for acceptance feels forced and inconsequential.

The play seems fixated on time, with no real relevance to the plot. Anniversaries, birthdays, ages, and the duration since characters last saw each other are mentioned without any meaningful impact. The absence of effective performance skills to show the ageing diminishes the significance of this aspect and may have worked better not mentioning years but focusing on the performance of them. 

Although there are minor changes to the set at the beginning and a handful of token props to signify the arrival of the baby, they do little to compensate for the lack of substance. They go overboard on the frequent and unnecessary costume changes to maintain visual interest. With the right costume changes these characters could have moved from cool youths to smart for work, to comfy relationship clothes rather than just swapping one shirt for another almost identical one. 

Same, Same, But Different invites the audience to reflect on societal norms and prejudices while celebrating the uniqueness of each individual.  Despite its intimate setting and sporadic moments of well-timed comedy, the play falls short, but does have potential.

This show was reviewed on the 13th July 2023.  Same, Same But Different runs at Brixton House, London until the 15th July 2023.  Tickets available here: Housemates 2023: Same, Same, But Different – Brixton House

Review written by Valentine Gale-Sides

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