A chance encounter in a hotel lobby sets off a series of events, disrupting the lives of two unknowingly intertwined couples. Their hidden fears and desires begin to unravel, as they are each forced to ask the question: what makes a relationship whole? What does it mean to live a full life?
Unfaithful examines the complex secrets and regrets of two couples on the brink of destruction. Tom (Sean Campion) confesses an act of unfaithfulness in the first moments to Joan (Niamh Cusack). Meanwhile, Tara (Ruta Gedmintas) sits by, bored as her boyfriend Peter (Matthew Lewis) heads off to work. The couples become involved, reminiscent of Patrick Marer’s Closer (though it is far less messy), Owen McCafferty proving a subtle and talented writer of what is a profound and provocative play.
There’s not a lost moment in this exceptional play, which leaves you with much to question over what it means to act out our lives as a couple or as lovers, but also merely as people. The performances are stellar; these are four commanding talents and it makes for a refined theatre experience.
This is a sharply written black comedy by McCafferty, poetically directed by Adam Penford, who has allowed even the most humble moments to offer lyrical gravitas. The simplicity and flexibility of the set complement the deeply turbulent inner workings of the characters, the movement of set pieces and visibility of the actors throughout a sophisticated counter-balance to all that is hidden and lied about on stage.
Relentless in its dissection, for me it is Joan who best represents the inner journey from the status quo to a new level of inner contemplation. Her decisions bring forth the need for a deeper kind of self-reflection. They are all beautifully written characters – uncompromising and flawed. Scenes between Cusack and Campion are by far the most electric, the depiction of a marriage which has lost direction both touching and disturbing.
Lewis certainly dispenses of his Harry Potter associations (it would be remiss of me not to mention this!) in his depiction of Peter. And Gedmintas too is understatedly endearing as Tara – she manages to be sultry and seductive in converse trainers. Tara too is a character I related to intensely, her questions on what direction her life should take feeling all too familiar. Doubts over what makes a relationship worthwhile, makes a life worthwhile and how to feel worthwhile within oneself, play out against overarching societal expectations and systems (capitalism and the institution of marriage, in particular).
There is so much to take away from Unfaithful, with very little, if anything, to criticise – it is the product of a capable team, and its home at the quirky Found111 venue provides the perfect backdrop. It is confronting, albeit with a subtle hand, and will leave you with much to ponder.
Review by Christina Calgaro
Emily Dobbs Productions present the London premiere of Unfaithful, a blackly comic new play starring Sean Campion (The Borgias, Stones in his Pockets), Niamh Cusack (Heartbeat, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time), Ruta Gedmintas (The Strain, The Tudors) and Matthew Lewis (Harry Potter film series, The Syndicate).
Tom is enjoying a quiet pint after work. Tara lies awake whilst her boyfriend finishes his shift. When their paths cross, a chain of events is sparked that reveal the unspoken desires and regrets of two relationships on the brink.
Sharply written by award-winning playwright Owen McCafferty (Scenes From The Big Picture, Shoot The Crow) Unfaithful questions what it means to be lovers, partners and people. Directed by Adam Penford (Watership Down, A Small Family Business).
by Owen McCafferty
111 Charing Cross Rd
London WC2H 0DT
Thursday 25 August – Saturday 8th October 2016
Press night: Wednesday 31 August at 7.45pm
Monday – Saturday at 7.45pm
Wednesday matinee at 3.00pm
Saturday matinee at 3.00pm