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Sex With a Stranger at the Pleasance Theatre – Review

Sex With a StrangerI remember being in my twenties. A lot of my weekends were spent out in town with my friends with two rather basic plans in mind. Either get very drunk or pick up someone. Was this something I wanted to do? Well, yes and no. Part of me enjoyed the fun and the thrill of the chase but at the same time, I was aware that as a twenty-something I was expected to behave in a certain way. Now, I’m not just pontificating here but providing an introduction to Stefan Golaszewski’s play Sex With A Stranger which is currently having a run out at the Pleasance Theatre.

Told in a series of non-linear scenes, Sex With A Stranger tells the story of Adam (Tomm Melody), his girlfriend Ruth (Emily Thornton) and Grace (Rebecca Rayne) a young lass picked up by Adam in a club during a ‘lads’ night out. We follow Adam and Grace as they wend their drunken way back to Grace’s place – via a night bus and kebab shop. And we see glimpses of Ruth and Adam’s home life from their first meeting at university through to the day of Adam’s night out where Ruth irons his new shirt as he gets ready.

Sex With A Stranger is a well written one-act play that rather accurately reflects the lives of twenty-somethings. Each character is nicely written and very believable. Tomm Melody as Adam is a strong northern lad who seems to have fallen into his relationship with Ruth without necessarily being ready for something so intense. He is an interesting chap who tries rather unsuccessfully not to tell Ruth what he is up to – tip for anyone thinking of doing the dirty on their partner, don’t buy brand new clothes and spray the Lynx too liberally – but who is obviously going on the proverbial pull on his night out. I would describe Emily Thornton’s Ruth as a young lady old before her time. She wants the whole relationship experience, every aspect of it, and is pretty pleased to have someone as handsome as Adam in her life. However, as with most people whose partner is really good looking, Ruth appears to have a lack of self-belief in her relationship, thinking that Adam is always looking for someone better. Emily really brings out the heartache of Ruth as she assists Adam to get ready for what he is obviously not planning to be just a lads night out. And finally, there is Rebecca Rayne as Grace. Now without being too horrible, Grace is a really irritating and intriguing character to get to know. When we first see her, she is on the phone with her sister while Adam stands patiently waiting for her to finish. The phone call goes on a long time and Adam is amazingly patient – as a chap on a promise is wont to be – as he stands there with, let’s be honest, only one thing on his mind.

I got the real feeling that Grace was probably the most trapped of the three characters. She is a young girl who likes to have fun and flirt and be given attention from good looking men. Unfortunately, she feels there is a price to pay for this and that is sex. You get the real feeling she doesn’t enjoy that side of things too much and would love her encounters to end with a kiss on the cheek as her handsome beau takes her home then rides off on his white charger into the sunset.

As you can see from the above, Stefan’s writing is extremely good and the three characters are extremely well drawn. Some of the dialogue – particularly that between Grace and Adam, on the way home – was beautifully observed and Stefan also really knows how to use silence to get a powerful message across, as witnessed in the last couple of minutes of the show. If anything, I thought that the play should have been longer with more shown of how Ruth and Adam moved from saying ‘hello’ at a uni event to living together.

All told, the three actors are really great together and there is a nice chemistry between them. Samson Hawkins direction of the play is really nice, particularly as some of the scenes are remarkably short but have to get a definite message across and all told, Sex With A Stranger is a really interesting piece that will doubtlessly resonate with anyone that remembers the ‘carefree’ days of being under thirty.

4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham

Adam ventures out on his long awaited ‘lads’ night out’. Later that evening he picks up Grace at a club and they get the night bus back to hers. As they make their glamorous journey to the bedroom – stopping off to find a lost oyster card and enjoy an awkward kebab – we see the emptiness of the pair’s lives brutally captured.

Earlier that day, Adam’s girlfriend Ruth watches as he prepares for his big night out.

Bleak, funny and excruciatingly accurate, Golaszewski’s play investigates three people entwined in a cheerless morass of uncertainty, boredom, loneliness and empty lust, connecting them with all that has gone before and all is yet to happen.

This is an amateur production.
Sex With a Stranger
16th, 17th & 20th Jan 2017
StageSpace – Pleasance London
7:30pm
Suitable for ages 16 and above
https://www.pleasance.co.uk

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