Theatre Review: Four Woke Baes, Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61), Edinburgh

4 Stars
4 Stars
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This terrifically enjoyable premiere production of American playwright Jonathan Caren’s new comedy has something of a party vibe about it.

That’s appropriate because it takes place on a canoeing stag trip as four old friends camp on the banks of a river in Colorado in honour of the impending wedding of Boardman (Quincy Dunn-Baker).

Their revelries are interrupted when Emma turns up and informs them they’ve taken the wrong site.

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Rather than force the party to move upstream, Emma agrees to share which could be awkward as she’s strikingly attractive but the baes are “woke” - modern, monogamous, boundary respecting males, or at least that’s how they like to think of themselves.

Caren keeps his baes just the right side of stereotype, there’s the bear-like ladies man, the cuddly, funny rich guy, the divorced vegan - who’s so damaged he can barely sit or stand-up straight - and Boardman, who’s so respectful of women’s boundaries his fiancé flew off to Belgium the day after he proposed.

The script has been polished so that it sparkles, sitcom slick and unusually light on profanity.

Perhaps they’re minding the language in front of Emma, who as played by Lyndsy Fonseca is intimidatingly intelligent and funny and forthright and isn’t it a little unusual for a single woman to go on a canoeing trip on her own, anyway?

Given the nature of the gathering, and the disruptive effect Emma’s presence has on the baes (which is considerable) you keep waiting for a rather obvious “twist” which, thankfully, never comes.

Persuasively played by an excellent US cast with a list of TV and film credits as long as your arm, this would benefit from an even longer time slot as it feels a little constricted towards its end but it’s a very rare thing indeed; a consistently funny feel-good comedy about masculinity.

Until 25 August. Today 5:05pm. ****

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