by Drew Pautz.

Cottesloe Theatre Upper Ground South Bank SE1 9PX In rep to 10 July 2010.
Runs: 2hr 15min One interval.

TICKETS 020 7452 3000.
Review: Carole Woddis 18 May 18.

So-so play about sexuality.
Drew Pautz’s debut play at Soho Theatre three years ago explored commodification, how everything in our society, including sex and desire, comes with a brand name attached. Pautz is part of a group called The Work, whose other members happen to be Matthew Dunster and Anna Fleischle, director and designer of Love the Sinner.

Good that the National are giving a platform to young artists, though Dunster is already well established as Associate Director at the Young Vic and has directed at Shakespeare’s Globe. The Canadian born Pautz was previously a Lighting Designer.

Pautz’s move into writing would seem to be seamless. Yet there is something ultimately unconvincing about this play, though its subject – Anglicanism and its conflicting attitudes towards homosexuality – and Pautz’s perspective, looking at opposing African and western attitudes from public and private standpoints, is both refreshing and topical.

A group of prelates led by a Rowan Williams-type figure, Stephen (Ian Redford) are meeting in an African country to hammer out a consensual statement on homosexuality. Arguments are fiery and fierce.

A volunteer, Michael (Jonathan Cullen) is taking notes and subsequently is seen involved in a relationship with a young black waiter, Joseph (Fiston Barek). Desperate to enjoy the fruits of the western world, Joseph attempts a kind of blackmail.

Back home, Michael bickers with his wife (also desperate, for a child) and workmates, who are resisting his attempts to live-out his Christian beliefs through practical application in his printing business.

Michael’s nemesis comes when having made his way to England and harboured Joseph in the basement of the local church, his `double’ life is exposed with the coincidental visit of Stephen. His assistant Daniel recognises Joseph from their African meeting. Stephen’s `liberalism’ is shown as ineffectual. Joseph prepares to go public.

It’s a neat enough, schematic exploration of a difficult area. And Christianity and its torments should make perfectly good drama, witness Howard Brenton’s compelling Paul in this same theatre.

Yet the suspicion is that all along, Pautz’s real concern is discussion of bisexuality and the hypocrisy of gay married men. Worthy but strangely unmoving.

Daniel: Scott Handy.
Tom/Bill: Sam Graham.
James/Dave: Fraser James.
Matthew/Harry: Robert Gwilym.
John: Paul Bentall.
Simon/Official: Richard Rees.
Hannah/Alison: Nancy Crane.
Stephen: Ian Redford.
Paul: Louise Mahoney.
Michael: Jonathan Cullen.
Joseph: Fiston Barek.
Shelly: Charlotte Randle.
Reverend Farley: Paul Bentall.

Director: Matthew Dunster.
Designer: Anna Fleischle.
Lighting: Philip Gladwell.
Sound: Paul Arditti.
Music: Jules Maxwell.
Voice/Dialect: Kate Godfrey.

2010-05-31 00:14:33

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