We Were Having a Perfectly Nice Time at Omnibus Theatre
Social distancing is not only the focus of Omnibus Theatre’s long-awaited reopening, but also at the heart of Pedro Leandro’s tragicomic, Beckett-lite, two-hander. Those concerned about returning to an indoor theatre needn’t be: a neat 25-minute runtime and clear, demonstrable measures make for a welcome, comfortable return to a live performance space after so long.
Stephanie Booth and Hannah Livingstone play two flatmates, set facing down the audience and the whole world. With social distancing being more a way of life than a temporary procedure for these two, there’s very little they like about the things and people around them, probably including themselves. Amid the malaise, misanthropy and a decanter of port, a frank admission threatens to ruin their evening in.
Dour, snarky mockery exchanged in a sustained, robotic monotone is difficult to keep engaging or funny, but impressively Booth and Livingstone pull it off. Evan Lordan’s entirely minimalist direction allows the actors to nail the extremely dry wit of Leandro’s script. The duo has both still, sullen intensity and prickly, precise comedic timing that manages to lighten an often stuporous atmosphere.
With unabashed cynicism, Leandro skewers a remarkable number of subjects in the tight half-hour of back-and-forth, from social dynamics on a night out to Richard Curtis’ screenplays to the “ultimate taboo” of love. However, beneath all this pessimism, the script is peppered in poignancy that offers some sympathy towards two people living behind closed doors and closed-off feelings.
Admittedly, the dreary monotone does threaten to become tedious as the play comes to a rather abrupt end. Fortunately, We Were Having A Perfectly Nice Time doesn’t outstay its welcome. It’s a perfectly fine time back in an actual theatre, even if the experience ends up being limited in duration and effect.
We Were Having a Perfectly Nice Time is at Omnibus Theatre from 2nd October until 24th October 2020 on Fridays and Saturdays. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.