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Review of Contact.com at Park Theatre

Contact.com cast photo Park Theatre London
Jason Durr (Matthew), Tanya Franks (Naomi). Photo credit Kim Hardy

Two couples, one night = no problem?
Michael Kingsbury’s new play at the Park Theatre is a wryly funny look at modern relationships, and the differences between the people involved.

Contact.com focuses on the modern world of online dating, and how a no-strings arrangement doesn’t necessarily equal no feelings. Writer Michael Kingsbury takes two very different couples and shows what happens when they meet. Well-spoken older couple Matthew (Jason Durr) and his wife Naomi (Tanya Franks) place an advert for some ‘fun’, which is answered by Kelly (Charlie Brooks) and Ryan (Ralph Aiken). The couples are polar opposites, but can opposites attract?

Much of the humour comes from the differences between the two couples. Naomi is calm, controlled and very much in charge while Matthew is authoritative at work but uncertain and nervous at home. In contrast Ryan and Kelly are the opposite in looks, speech and mannerisms. Gradually as the play continues feelings develop and the initial arrangement becomes far more complicated than any of the characters planned. As the initial one night stay looks set to become something more long term, secrets emerge and the relationships between the couples become increasingly complicated.

Contact.com Contact.Com at Park Theatre. Ralph Aiken (Ryan), Charlie Brooks (Kelly).
Ralph Aiken (Ryan), Charlie Brooks (Kelly). Photo credit Kim Hardy

For a play that focuses initially on a one-off sexual encounter between two couples, the focus is instead mainly on the after-effects of this night. It looks at how people who initially seem very different can find common ground, or find themselves further apart than ever. Each character is affected by what happens on that first night. Matthew becomes more relaxed and authoritative, bonding with Kelly at the expense of both their marriages. However Naomi and Ryan become jealous and simply want things to go back as they were. The question is, whether they can forget what’s happened and go their separate ways.

I found the play to be an intriguing and thought-provoking look at modern dating and relationships. Even with the modern idea of using the internet to organise no-strings encounters, there’s no getting away from the fact that feelings somehow become involved, no matter how hard you try not to let them. It also looks at the ways that people in different social statuses view one another, and how while some people can overcome these, others are unable to do so. Even with the most modern of relationships, it seems that feelings will always be involved.

4 star Review

Review by Amanda Blake

Spellbound Productions in association with Park Theatre presents the World Premiere of Contact.com
by Michael Kingsbury. Director: Ian Brown
Starring Ralph Aiken, Charlie Brooks, Jason Durr & Tanya Franks

A startling new comedy exploring internet dating and the sexual and economic needs of two very different couples.
Professional Islington-based couple seek young couple for shared pleasures. He 46. She 42. Can accommodate. Young sexy South London couple. He 29. She 27. Seek older couple for nights of pleasure and fulfilment. Will travel.

Middle-aged Matthew and his long-suffering wife Naomi await the arrival of the youthful Ryan and Kelly to their elegant North London home. They’ll meet for one night of unlimited pleasure, then part. That’s the agreement, that’s the plan – but can they stick to it? Ryan and Kelly have a different agenda…

Contact.com is a delicious combination of caustic wit, powerful drama and social observation.

Park Theatre (Park200)
13th January – 14th February
http://parktheatre.co.uk

Saturday 17th January 2015

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