Sometimes, shows have a promising premise or story but are, for whatever reason, unable to execute it satisfactorily. Wishing on a Stopgap is, I fear, one of these shows.
Something about the production lacks energy or urgency. The plot and structure is intriguing and staging via which it is presented creative; the slight crossing over of stage time between the protagonists’ various partners does a good job of reflecting the blurring lines of his own recollections. Nevertheless, the action moves slowly, and at times the positioning of the large cast in the small performance space can’t help but feel cluttered.
It doesn’t help that the majority of the cast do not seem as invested in their characters as they should be. While some give a valiant and enjoyable effort to their performances, too many of the central cast speak their lines with a lack of conviction and appear wooden and uncomfortable in their roles. The conversations these characters have are not engaging or interesting in the way they should be, they do not capture the hearts of minds of an audience, and create no investment in the plot or its resolution.
As a whole, much of this production seems clunky, lacking commitment and heart. The direction probably leaves a lot to be desired, as actors do not appear to have been appropriately…well…directed to develop and explore their characterisation to a level that feels believable and natural rather than just watching people recite words they’ve memorised.
With a different cast, and a rehash and rethink of the script and pacing, the premise of this play could make for something really interesting that might actually succeed in what it’s trying to do. For the moment, I think a few missteps have been made, and the show has put a few too many barriers in its own path to achieve what it might have been able to when the idea was first born