by Vicky Jones.
Soho Theatre 21 Dean Street W1D 3NE To 30 March 2014.
Tue-Sun 7.30pm Mat Thu, Sat 3pm.
Audio-described 11 Mar.
Captioned 20 Mar 7.30pm.
Runs: 1hr 1min No interval.
TICKETS : 020 7478 0100.
Review Carole Woddis 26 February.
Award winning acid tongue.
With a nod to Edward Albee (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf/), Harold Pinter (sexual manipulation) and August Strindberg (The Dance of Death), Vicky Jones’s 2013 Verity Bargate Award winner hits where it hurts most. In the heart. And solar plexus.
Can this really be a true reflection of the Battle of the Sexes 21st century? Is young womanhood really so hung up on playing games, being hurt and goading a male partner into rapist behaviour? If so, it’s as though the past forty years or more of feminism has gone right down the drain.
Forty years ago, Jones’ portrayal of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s acid tongued Jo would have brought the `sisters’ out in riot. What would Germaine Greer, Marilyn French and the rest have made of Jo’s manipulations and louche dishonesty as she cajoles, jokes, plays the submissive, then scorns Harry – played with nuanced authority by Rufus Wright?
A feminist’s nightmare, Jones’s very post-modern take makes uncomfortable but impressive viewing. For one thing, Jones, co-artistic director with Waller-Bridge of DryWrite and director of Waller Bridge’s own award-winning Fleabag writes with unflinching brutalist humour.
Bravely or unwisely (depending on your stance) taking on the explosive subject of rape, she gives us a technicoloured, up-close and personal exploration of emotional dependency where the stakes are trapped dangerously inside a continuing game of role-playing from which neither party can escape.
Cleverly, she introduces a third party, Kerry, allowing further diversions into definitions of sex between consenting adults where `assumption’ of consent can turn into rape.
Steve Marmion, Soho’s Artistic Director, finds every nook and cranny of Jones’ roller-coaster banter. Just when you think Jo and Harry are acting out a Nigella/Saatchi moment of violent encounter, the next they’re into a `thumb war’ talking about an `open relationship where Jo appears to be in control. But Harry, nonchalant as ever, springs another trap. “Gotcha. I would never. Ever. Share you with f***ing anybody.”
It is Jo however who springs the greatest surprise. And without wishing to give the game away, ultimately, the winner of this highly destructive war of words is anybody’s guess. Depressingly brilliant.
Jo: Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Harry: Rufus Wright.
Kerry: Lu Corfield.
Director: Steve Marmion.
Designer: Anthony Lamble.
Lighting: Ben Ormerod.
Sound: Gareth Fry.
Fight director: Brett Yount.
Assistant director: Sara Joyce.
The One received its world premiere at the Soho Theatre, London on 26 February 2014.
For more info: www.sohotheatre.com;