by Laura Jacqmin.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Arms 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 14 July 2015.
Sun-Mon 7.30pm Tue 2pm.
Runs 1hr 45min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652.
www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk (no booking fee by ’phone or online).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 June.
It’s all neatly played at very close quarters, but the characters never become more than figures in a modern sexual landscape.
If this were a play about Mathematics it would pose an interesting conundrum. Two people invite another person to join their sexual activities as a ‘third’. Then one of the two invites a fourth person to become another ‘third’. This makes a foursome, of which two ‘third’s make up half. Add a sort of intertextuality: The Foursome was the first play by E A Whitehead, whose subsequent Alpha Beta shares the Finborough stage with Laura Jacqmin’s play.
Very much shares. Alpha Beta designer Verity Quinn consigns the audience to guests sitting round the edges as Whitehead’s married couple tear themselves apart during the 1960s. Josh Roche’s production interleaves audience and actors even more as spectators are invited to come close to voyeurs; actors may move them around and occupy their places, while engaging in early-stage sexual play and acquire video moments to send to others as part of their ploy.
Today’s more self-determined relationships can lead to loss of control, as does marriage in Whitehead. At first, Allison reads the rules of engagement to Jay. All’s calmly organised and agreed. But Allison and established partner Paul attend gay night in a local club where he invites regular Mariella to become another ‘third’. This invite’s more insidious, a seduction of sorts, and when Allison’s summoned by ’phone to come outside and agree, she does so in the heat of excitement from dancing.
Moments of excitement are very few; anxiety generally reigns. Roche’s cast play, and underplay, in a manner withdrawn from the audience with whom they mingle. But they’re often as withdrawn from each other, giving a voyeuristic aspect to the physically expressive moments. Concern over emotional or psychological infringement is persistently present in the pair who started the experiment and have most to lose – as a final flashback makes clear.
There’s little space made for humour in play or production, but such moments give a welcome energy – underwear features in a couple and a Harry Potter game supremely in another. Always involved with the sexual pulse, these provide a welcome energy and variety in the depiction of bleak sexual lives.
Allison: Asha Reid.
Jay: Will Alexander.
Paul: Jeremy Legat.
Mariella: Lucy Roslyn.
Director: Josh Roche.
Designer: Avra Alevropoulou.
Lighting: Joe Price.
Sound/Composer: Kieran Lucas.
Assistant director: Christa Lorraine Harris.