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Threesome returns to the Union Theatre – Review

Threesome
Threesome

Even I couldn’t resist a little infantile giggle at a note in the programme for Threesome about this now being the “full-length production” (it has had several incarnations since the 2015 Brighton Fringe debut run). Reading the press release for Threesome reminded me of the Christmas 2013 adult pantomime at Leicester Square Theatre, called Dick Comes Again: Bigger, Longer, Harder! – a title acknowledging its development over time. The thing about this new play good enough to now have an interval is that it now takes a more scenic route than it used to, to reach the exact same destination.

At least this production doesn’t deviate from being about a threesome. The trouble is that it really doesn’t explore any other possible avenues for conversation or discussion, only that Sam (Chris Willoughby) and Kate (Gemma Rook) want extra-marital bedroom activity, as it is better than the status quo in their lives (that is, no bedroom activity) and have mutually decided that Lucy (April Pearson) is a suitable person to assist them in their endeavour. They achieve what they set out to achieve – though not all is plain sailing, naturally – and by the end, Sam and Kate’s passion is reignited. That’s pretty much it. There’s no subplot, and there is only occasional talk of other people outside this trio. We don’t even know what any of them do for a living.

Therefore, it still doesn’t feel like it’s a finished product. Proceedings start with a short film, which I couldn’t find fault with. The use of video in theatre is far from novel – I recall seeing Starlight Express on its UK tour in 2012, in which the audience was supplied with 3D viewing glasses on entry to the auditorium. It was (and I say this as a proponent of the live theatre experience) a pity there weren’t more videos. There could, for instance, have been videos where characters, individually, speak out the sort of thoughts that the social situation, and common courtesy, prevents them from verbalising. I acknowledge, though, that there is nothing wrong with the good old soliloquy for this purpose. I note a long David Attenborough-style voiceover partway through Act Two; here, an animated cartoon could have been used to accompany the spoken word. As it is, the audience sits staring at a completely empty stage at that moment.

The audience’s reactions to the dialogue as the show progressed were largely very positive. I felt, at the risk of sounding like a killjoy, as though I were at home watching a television sitcom with lots of canned laughter in all the right places. While I found it funny to an extent, I wasn’t laughing nearly as much as many people around me were. The script becomes wittier as it goes along, particularly in the second half, but never reaches literary heights. The show is thus reliant on the text being conveyed in the best possible manner, and this cast delivers in spades.

There is humour to be found in the discussions between the three characters. There was a part of me that occasionally wished for them to stop talking so much and get on with it. But then, I realised, as Brexit was referenced in the second half, this is like asking the Government to get on with exiting the European Union without some very thorough discussions about how to proceed beforehand. As for the performances (ahem) themselves, all three actors do an excellent job with what they are given. It’s what they are given that’s the problem.

Do women really talk the way they do in this play? Or is this how a male writer perceives how women talk? At one point Lucy mansplains (or, more accurately, ‘womansplains’) reproduction to Sam, which I found bizarre. It is, in the end, a tad disappointing that the narrative of this play never deviates from its missionary position: the bedroom activity is comparatively more imaginative. Still, it’s a fun and light-hearted production, a couple of hours of theatrical escapism.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

THREESOME returns to The Union Theatre London, this time, its full-length. Literally.
In an attempt to spice up their relationship Sam and Kate meet Lucy. Young, attractive and with unconventional ideas about life and sex, she convinces them that having a threesome will put them back on track. The play follows the trio as they negotiate the unorthodox protocol of what happens next. As the title suggests, this hilarious comedy is just for adults!

Threesome is the debut play from Brighton-based Laboratory Theatre Company. Written by award-winning filmmaker Jamie Patterson. Starring April Pearson, Gemma Rook and Chris Willoughby.

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