Thursday, 1 September 2016

Review Unfaithful

By Owen McCafferty

Telling Tales

An Irish man and a young English woman walk into a bar. It could be a post modern feminist joke or a pitch for the next steamy movie thriller or TV box set. Or, as in this case, the premise behind Owen McCafferty's play at fashionably grunge pop-up venue, Found111.

This bedroom drama  revolves around two couples, one Irish and one English: Respectively middle-aged wispily tense Joan (Niamh Cusack) and her beetle-browed husband of many years Tom (Sean Campion); Twenty-somethings pot-smoking sober suited Peter (Matthew Lewis) and  chavvily atrractive Tara (Ruta Gedmintas) with the former gathering up money to finance their lives.

Told in a series of flashbacks and flash forwards, this rather schematic piece criss-crosses the two couples. Irish plumber Tom admits to his wife his hotel bar encounter with a young woman. He lumbers through a few hoops of lies and half truths before coming up with what may or may not be the truth.

In a rush of resentment, Joan, a dinner lady supervisor, decides to ring the changes and books a room in the same hotel paying for a male escort, who turns out to be, lo and behold, Peter the other half of Tara   apparently a Maths' student dropout turned supermarket till girl  - she of the hooped earrings, green parka, denim mini skirt and long legs.

The scenes of this tale of infidelity are intercut with some clever in-character scene changes skilfully directed by Adam Penford with a simple ingenious design by Richard Kent transforming a bedroom to a bar with one swipe of a sliding wardrobe door.

Nonetheless, interesting directorial and designer tableaux feel more substantial than this rather colourless play. While Cusack reveals a lithe sexiness beneath her care-worn demeanour changing into a clinging Chinese silk dress before meeting her English gigolo, there are no other transforming or revelatory developments for the others. 

As a face-value plot about adultery or, as we suspect, a metaphor for the brave new world of TV and film which has developed since the internet, it feels unsatisfying. Still, it's deftly acted, precisely styled and fluently directed with the story of the older couple taking some telling twists and turns. We therefore give an  amber light for this stroll into the red light district of relationships.

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