Four Play: Jake Brunger
Old Joint Stock Theatre, Temple Street, B
0121 200 0946
Runs 2h, one interval, to 8 September
Review: Rod Dungate 5 September 2018
Funny and moving – exploration of life isn’t easy
Jake Brunger’s Four Play is a fascinating piece of work. On the face of it, it’s a slightly risqué, but slight, comedy around sex. But you don’t have to dig very deep to see that it’s a deftly conceived play exploring from many different angles the complexities of sex, relationships and leaving behind adolescent things.
The set-up is witty; Rafi and Pete have been together monogamously for seven (and a half) years – neither has had sex with any other men, ever. They want to try it out and select an acquaintance from university days – Michael. But Michael is in a relationship with Andrew who is supposed to know nothing of the arrangement . . .
As the twists and turns of this quartet are examined, the joy of love an companionship is set against the thrills and vigour of fresh sexual encounters. Exposed too is the pain of change and the on-set of maturity.
The four actors work well together, negotiating the highs and lows with aplomb. However, the play’s structure often makes real intimacy difficult to achieve, particularly in the first half, comprised of short, sometimes very short, scenes. Here, greater intimacy of playing would help the play blossom, and removing the frequent black-outs would helpfully improve pace and hold dramatic tension.
The second half opens with a terrific scene with the four at a little dinner party hosted by Andrew. The air is dangerous with secrets, the conversation deliciously awkward, and the four actors creating a real bond that enables the comedy to embrace us.
Tracey Street has opened up the many layers in her directing, but greater attention to pace or flow would lift the drama. Nevertheless, this is a production that can amuse and move.
Rafi: Connor Nolan
Pete: Dominic Thompson
Andrew: Tye Harris
Director: Tracey Street
Producer: Adam Lacey