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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Straight
Bush Theatre Winter 2012

DC Moore has written a stage version of Lynn Shelton's film Humpday, and the result is a one-joke sex comedy kept from floating off into TV sitcom land by a couple of interesting serious moments. 

Lewis and Morgan are happily married 30-somethings until Waldorf, Lewis's old pal from university, reappears after ten years travelling the world. Waldorf picks up flaky pothead Steph, who titillates the lads with her tales of appearing in a porn film, and before you know it the guys have decided to make and appear in their own gay porn. 

The plot twists and mental processes that get them there all take place offstage between scenes, and it would have helped a lot if we had been allowed to see them. Anyway, Act Two opens with them arriving at the chosen hotel room with camera and lube, leading to forty minutes or so of comic panic as they face the prospect of actually Doing It.

I salute Henry Pettigrew (Lewis) and Philip McGinley (Waldorf), and director Richard Wilson, for managing to keep that one joke afloat for longer than you might expect likely, but it does get thinner and thinner as it goes along. 

Two things give this fluff some ballast and emotional reality. First, the laddies do protest too much, and we and they begin to suspect that more than a drunken dare is pushing them toward that hotel bed and underlies their comic panic.

Even more interesting is the suggestion that at least Lewis is undergoing a very-premature midlife crisis, asking whether this is all there is, and whether this is all there is to him. As he tries to explain to his wife, attempting something totally out of character will tell him either that there is more to him than the life he has or that there isn't and he should accept it. 

That scene takes up no more than five minutes, but it raises questions far more interesting than whether Lewis and Waldorf are closet homosexuals.

Earlier we were told in passing that Lewis and Morgan bought a flat at the top of the market and are stuck with negative equity, and the idea that the first middle-class generation in almost a century to be facing a life smaller than they grew up expecting might encounter the 'Is this all there is?' crisis a lot earlier than others is intriguing and touching, and could make the core of a powerful play. 

That isn't the play DC Moore set out to write, and it's unfair to criticise him for not writing that one instead. This one is a light, trivial, awkwardly constructed sitcom with hints of more, and that may be enough for you. 

Henry Pettigrew and Philip McGinley never really succeed in bridging that enormous plot and character gap in Act One, but they find all the farce and hints of something more serious in Act Two. Jessica Ransom as Morgan is given little to do beyond looking surprised and upset by her husband's project, and Jenny Rainsford can do nothing with a woefully underwritten character who's just there to get the plot started.

Gerald Berkowitz

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