The design is the star of Out There On Fried Meat Ridge Road, in an otherwise pretty scrappy fringe offering.
The best thing about Out There On Fried Meat Ridge Road is the set. Designed by Simon Scullion, who’s also responsible for the design of Misfit’s Peter Pan Goes Wrong, it’s far superior to anything you’d expect for the London fringe scene (bearing in mind the stage size and typical production values). The audience are here treated to a playful design, which never ceases to surprise in the play’s short 70-minute running time and makes the small playing space of the White Bear feel even smaller (a positive, establishing the claustrophobic setting nicely).
Now for the rest. Excusing one or two particularly groan-worthy jokes (the majority are alright-ish), there’s nothing offensive or truly horrific about Keith Stevenson’s short play. The whole thing’s just quite scrappy. First performed in Venice (a beachfront neighbourhood on the Westside of LA), none of the characters are ever quite developed enough for it to feel like a fully-formed play. The supporting characters burst in and out of the front door, not really onstage for long enough for it to be possible to emphasise with them (or in this context of comedy, laugh at), and the two protagonists (Mitch, a newly fired and newly dumped factory worker with sweaty hands – and J.D, a hairy man with a penchant for Mountain Dew cocktails and a belief his dad is Jesus) have interesting enough, albeit ludicrous, backstories to tune in for 70-minutes but any longer and I feel I’d slightly lose my patience.
You leave feeling like you’ve watched a (very American, in its sense of humour as well as obviously its setting) TV sitcom pilot. Some people won’t mind this, I’d estimate about 50% of the audience I was part of seemed to have enough of a laugh to leave with a smile on their face. But it wasn’t quite enough for me.