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  • Chris ORourke

Dublin Fringe Festival 2018: Sweet Sensations

Sweet Sensations. Image by Carmen Reichle


Carry On Nursing Home

In Teri Fitzgeralds’s “Sweet Sensations” the lunatics take over the asylum once again in this old school, comedy romp. When a surprise inspection affords the long suffering residents of Peafield Hospital for the Elderly an opportunity to fight back against an indifferent staff and management mayhem ensues courtesy of octogenarian Josie and her partner in crime Toby. If what follows strives hard to be a wacky comedy feast, in the end it proves to be disappointingly lacklustre. For despite some genuinely funny scenes, its comic stylings are often as old as its patients.

In Fitzgerald’s problematic script, “Sweet Sensations” plays like a 1970s TV pilot being performed on stage. Its screenplay/teleplay format, whose regular transitions might flow easier on screen, often feels clunky and clumsy. If “Sweet Sensations” aspires to the irreverence and cleverness of medical shows like Scrubs, its predictable, pantomime stylings has it looking more like Carry On Nursing Home. Throughout, its retro stylings, exemplified by a chaotic scene featuring the Benny Hill signature tune, reinforce its dated quality. An effort to give it some moral weight, tagged unconvincingly on at the end, arrives too late to have any real impact.

If “Sweet Sensations” delivers some visually funny moments on occasion, such as Josie’s motorised walking frame, too often its neither funny nor original enough. Granted, its dated, car crash humour will appeal to some, but its insanity is never quite insane enough for everyone else. While its large cast strive hard to invest it with energy, most notably Sharon Coade’s superb Caramel, Lórcan Strain’s excellent Chucky, the energetic and engaging Gemma Kane and Ali Fox as hospital nurses, and Amy Dunne as the assistant Louise, the end result is far less laughs than you hoped for.

Teri Fitzgerald is a first rate performer and a writer of unquestionable talent, but “Sweet Sensations” is not her finest hour. Unfocused, unconvincing, looking not entirely sure of itself, “Sweet Sensations” seems to throw everything out there in the hope that something sticks. Alas, despite some genuinely funny moments, not enough does.

“Sweet Sensations” by Teri Fitzgerald, runs at Smock Alley Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2018 until September 22.

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