by Gary Owen.
Palace Theatre 20 Clarendon Road WD17 1JZ In rep to 19 October 2013.
1pm 5, 19 Oct.
2pm 4 Oct.
2.30pm 10, 16 Oct.
7.30pm 30 Sept, 1, 8, 12, 15, 17 Oct.
8pm 11 Oct.
Audio-described 12 Oct.
Captioned 8 Oct.
Post-show Discussion 7 Oct.
Runs 2hr 5min One interval.
TICKETS: 01923 225671.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 26 September.
Comedy of people told who they love opens strongly.
This first, major, slice of the Palace’s autumn trio of new plays about the impact of e-technology on human relationships makes a point about speed. Anna and Joe have been nine years coming to the point of marriage; Aaron and Lorna have been together six. And if not getting married, are sufficiently developed for Lorna to arrive at a bar in a wedding-dress.
The gradual development of emotional attachment this suggests is disrupted, in a suitably brisk opening, by the result of a new online service, which for a mere £800 claims to search the virtual world with the thoroughness and access of a national security agency, placing Anna and Aaron together as a perfectly matched couple – which their rejected partners mock for its clumsy sound.
This mockery hints both at the non-rational factors online intelligence hasn’t allowed for, as well as the power that swiftness brings. A secret week’s sex in Stevenage (from nearby Watford that might seem anybody’s test of a durable relationship) and the two As are ready to fly to Gretna, being so green they think that’s where you go for quick weddings.
For an act, and beautifully played in Palace Artistic Director Brigid Larmour’s production, the action slips back and forth across the stage between café and bar, as the perfectly matched pair communicate, and meet while their ex-partners sit around.
But Lorna already shows Owen moving into a more fantastic sphere, in her dress, hyped-up manner and deliberate revenge. It’s a new mood that floods the second act where Aaron and Anna pursue the others to a Las Vegas hotel. A convenient fact about one of the four suddenly comes into play, something it’s hard to believe wouldn’t have been mentioned before.
Technology follows through the action, in the mobile ’phones of act one, or the hotel’s mysterious electric toilet in the second part. By the time assertion through repetition of words and physical action have reclaimed relationships for human behaviour, the play has moved into a different sphere from its opening, itself losing a measure of grounded reality as it does so.
Anna: Kelly Hotten.
Joe: Ken Nwosu.
Aaron: Tom Berish.
Lorna: Eva-Jane Willis.
Barman/Bellboy: Hugo Bolton.
Director: Brigid Larmour.
Designer: Alex Lowde.
Lighting: Colin Grenfell.
Sound/Composer: Isobel Waller-Bridge.
Video: Duncan McLean.
Movement: Shona Morris.