by Joshua Conkel.

Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 9 July 2012.
Sun-Mon 7.30pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 24 June.

Gothic nightmare of American vita that’s not at all dolce.
If American writer Joshua Conkel had called his play “Bye Stephanie Schwartz” he would have pointed to the character whose dilemmas are its centre, and to the serious, occasionally elegiac note beneath the raucous farce and suburban gothic. For there’s a sadness about the situation when all the words have been slung about.

His actual, marketable title points to anyone but Stephanie, the single mother and supermarket-checkout worker (her name badge stays with her beyond the job) whose husband killed himself and whose task in bringing up 12-year old Jayden is emphasised by having the lad played by an adult with full-bodied college footballer physique: the child as testosterone waiting to happen.

Neighbour and fellow-worker Sharice has a freer view of life, opening Stephanie to the comfort of non-lesbian kissing., which beats her clumsily painful attempts at sex with partner Will. Meanwhile, as a rapist stalks the neighbourhood, the Mailman becomes comforter-in-chief, offering the lightest of contact as prelude to asexual seeing of stars through an optical trick. Stephanie is the first stage character since Douglas Beechey in Alan Ayckbourn’s 1988 Man of the Moment to definitely not want sex. Douglas, a bank clerk, might have been tamed into sexual submission being chained, however contentedly, to a counter. The Mailman, you’d think, would have walked-up an appetite.

Recognising that the good homes belong to those living elsewhere with higher-paid jobs, it’s hardly surprising Steph gives way amid all this, taking to drink, squirting into her mouth, then downing by the mouthful, the liquid cleaners she began using to polish the table. How do you stay together when life’s disintegrating around you?

James Turner’s set becoming surrounded by empty liquid-cleaner containers after the interval, as Steph, who started shocked at finding a porn DVD at home, joins Sharice in stripping classes.

It can be fun and is lustily acted in Rebecca Atkinson-Lord’s production. But there’s little to connect with in the characters, and given that Shakespeare fitted Macbeth or The Tempest into a mere quarter-of-an-hour more than this play runs, neither does the action hold sway for anything like its full length.

Stephanie Schwartz: Georgia Buchanan.
Sharice Hildebrand: Kelly Burke.
Mailman: Matt Steinberg.
Jayden: Eric Kofi Abrefa.
Will: James Hillier.

Director: Rebecca Atkinson-Lord.
Designer: James Turner.
Lighting: Tom Cooper.
Sound: Edward Lewis.
Choreographer: Lucy Casson.
Fight director: Mathew McKay.
Assistant director: Celeste Dring.

2012-07-01 23:36:14

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