There is a myriad of plays out there at the moment which deal with today’s “swipe” culture of dating, and an equally bewildering number which explore modern attitudes to disability.
Wendy Hoose does both. However, this is not a sententious little piece bewailing our emotional triviality as a society and lecturing us on our pitiable narrow-mindedness. Writer Johnny McKnight has brought us a play which tackles the subject of prejudice with humour, common sense and a refreshing lack of moralising judgement.
Jake is … up for it. And so is Laura. They have never met but they have been sexting on a dating app for a while, and now they are in Laura’s flat – he prancing around with bulging trousers, she in bed in a low cut negligée – and things are looking hopeful. Until Jake discovers something unusual about Laura – something which, for him, is as big a turn off as a sudden cold shower. Over the course of the next awkward half an hour, while Jake waits for a taxi, they chat, argue, learn more about each other and discover that Laura might – just might – be just as judgemental as he is.
While the concept is elegant, there is absolutely nothing subtle about this play. Everything is in your face – the dialogue is supremely crude, the topics of discussion alarmingly frank, and things happen right in front of your eyes that I never thought I would see on stage. In order that nobody miss any aspect of the antics, surtitles are provided, complete with logos and emoticons. A sign language interpreter is also busily working away on Laura’s wall-mounted television screen, and to top it all a refined, laconic and slightly revolted audio describer gives us her own take on the events.
The set is simple but very effective. We’ve all seen bedrooms like Laura’s dozens of times, and the simple trick of leaving the door open to reveal the corridor beyond makes it very easy to believe in the rest of the little “Wendy Hoose”.
Although the very prospect of such graphic content would make many actors blanch, Amy Conachan and James Young handle things with admirable aplomb. They are charming, believable and very, very funny, with that particularly no-nonsense Glaswegian humour which is so infectious. They don’t flinch from the more explicit scenes, but neither do they seem to relish the shock value. Those things happen because… well, that’s what people do.
That is what really makes this play stand out – how natural it all feels. Jake and Laura are real, flawed people, behaving just as any of us might in such circumstances. Their interactions are genuine, and although points are made they are never hammered home.
Wendy Hoose is not for everybody – I certainly wouldn’t take my mother to go and see it – but if you have an open mind and are not easily shocked you will have a lot of fun.
Review by Genni Trickett
Laura and Jake just want sex. Late Friday night drunken sex. Nothing more. No strings attached. But getting your leg over is sometimes more difficult than you think. Starring James Young and Amy Conachan, Wendy Hoose is about two twenty-something’s searching for love in all the wrong places! All performances include audio description, BSL and surtitles.
BIRDS OF PARADISE AND RANDOM ACCOMPLICE IN ASSOCIATION WITH SOHO THEATRE PRESENT
Tue 12 Apr – Sat 7 May 2016, 7.30pm. Thu & Sat matinees 3pm