Payne's new play isn't badly written, but it's unnecessary.
nothing about its subject that you don't already know, offers no
insights you don't already have, provides no solutions to its problems
and is likely to leave you unmoved and unaffected.
go out exactly
as you came in, with only the passage of a not unpleasant ninety
minutes to tell you anything actually happened.
married couple in
their forties have hit a lull in their sex lives. She's gone off it,
he's frustrated, and attempts at solution like formal sex dates and
role-playing are just too awkward and embarrassing.
tempted to stray and one does briefly, and a few badly underwritten
secondary characters tell us that other people have sexual problems
too, but at play's end they are all exactly where they were at the
start, and we don't know, understand or feel for them any more than we
did coming in.
to this, the couple's teenage son manages to convince a girl to let him
use her body to practice his sexual technique on, so he'll be better
prepared for the girl he really wants, and
thus gets more action than anyone else in the play. This is presented
as sweet, innocent and romantic.)
of the problem
is Payne's bland and almost perversely uncommitted presentation of the
story and characters. Pushed just a bit in one direction,
could have been a raunchy sex farce; tipped over in another, it could
be an episode of Eastenders; explored with some sensitivity or insight,
it might have helped us understand or empathise with the characters.
But Payne stands back so far from the
material that he offers us no emotional way in, and no particular
reason to care.
who seem to be stuck in a time loop, so that their scenes could come in
any random order without much change in effect, Pippa Haywood and
Stuart McQuarrie work at making each isolated moment as real as
possible, and James Musgrave and Isabella Laughland almost make the
fantasy teenagers believable.
it hardly matters, because nothing happens in this play, either to the
characters or to you.
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- Wanderlust - Royal Court 2010