Home » Reviews » Off West End » Threesome, Etcetera Theatre

Threesome, Etcetera Theatre

Lisa Gifford
Directed by Paul Linghorn
★★★★ 

Pros: An interesting look at sexual politics with some really lovely acting thrown in. A decent Paul Daniels/Debbie McGee gag in there too.

Cons: Some parts of the performance lacked clear choices; nothing too off-putting though.

Our Verdict: A humorous and enjoyable evening though probably best not to bring your mum to this one!

Courtesy of Capital City Theatre

It is interesting to consider the images and occasionally the prejudices we conjure up when reading or hearing a show’s title without knowing anything about its content. On reading the name of this new play entitled Threesome, I hastily envisioned the theatrical equivalent of a silly women’s magazine, overflowing with post-Sex and the City style sassiness and pseudo-feminist lingo. Luckily, this show succeeds in packing a lot more punch, featuring comparatively in-depth explorations of human sexuality and the emotional traps hidden therein.

I read somewhere (quite possibly in one of the aforementioned fem mags) that threesomes can be something of a logistical nightmare. It’s not just the residual weirdness but the ins and outs of the event itself (ahem) which can offer a barrage of confusing sexual etiquette. Things like who does what to whom, what goes where, is it a bit weird if I do this to that person? There is also the issue of am I making anyone feel left out or even worse still are they leaving ME out?! And so forth. Perhaps thankfully, Capital City Theatre Company are much more concerned with exploring the complications of such a tryst when all three are emotionally involved with each other and have been for many years. Paul and Jenny are engaged to each other and Rob is Paul’s best friend. One evening, they have a few drinks down the pub followed by more drinks back at the couple’s flat. Somewhere in the midst of all this merriment, all three end up in bed together and so the mirth continues albeit in a considerably more naked way. Soon enough the inevitable consequences begin to unfold.

From the get-go I found these characters appealing. Adam Lannon seemed to really enjoy playing the role of the cockney Casanova Rob, described by his best mate as ‘the most defiantly straight man I’ve ever met’. He provides sharp and natural comic relief during some of the darker moments and his way with the audience seemed spontaneous and improvised. Although I didn’t quite warm to Jen initially (nicely played by Lisa Gifford) I found myself always wanting to know more and the story provided an interesting arc allowing her to display a wide range of emotions effectively. However, it is the character Paul (Alex Corbett Burcher) who had me hooked throughout the show. He underplays the softly-spoken, quietly unhappy fiance to great effect thus creating an interesting dynamic with the other two who are loud and brash for most of the proceedings. It is with this calmative softness that he draws the audience into the real heart of the story creating intrigue as to who this tacitly sad man really is and what part he plays in the unfolding drama.

The choice of set was perhaps a telling one – a messy kitchen-cum-living room covered in untidily stacked boxes reflecting an ill-suited couple about to move into a new home and married life. The costumes were understandably just a few dressing gowns here and there and not much else which again was perfect for the story. A particularly nice moment is when a tall, manly, tufty-chested Rob emerges from the bedroom in Jen’s tiny silk dressing gown- a moment which tickled the audience immensely. This is followed by a long stretch of silence with nothing happening on stage except for a kettle boiling and three awkward faces staring into the abyss – which, for me at least, was the crowning comedic moment of the night.

The only real let-down in this production is that although all three performances were undoubtedly very interesting, funny and naturalistic, they just weren’t quite polished enough. There were times when the scenes didn’t seem to have any clear blocking and the actors were drifting from one spot to the next which was distracting. I also felt the climax of the story was let down by rushed dialogue and, again, some very undefined blocking.

However, overall I do highly recommend that you go and see the show. It really has a lot to offer. Also, really big kudos to the actors for staying in character despite the many distractions thrown at them – from the howling dad rock downstairs in the Oxford Arms to the sporadically thunderous air con unit above the audience. So very well done indeed.

As for me, the idea of adding such complications to one’s love life left me feeling vaguely stressed. As Alan Carr* recently quipped, it’s hard enough to get a decent twosome these days.

*That’s the comedian Alan Carr not that nice man who wrote a bestseller on quitting smoking, though it’s likely he would also concur.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Threesome runs at the Etcetera Theatre until 26th August 2012.
Box Office: 08444 77 1000 or book online at http://camdenfringe.com/details.php?acts_id=75
More details about Capital City Theatre are available online at http://www.threesometheplay.co.uk

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Everything Theatre
Founded in 2011, Everything Theatre started life as a pokey blog run by two theatre enthusiasts and – thanks to the Entry Pass Scheme for 16-25 year olds – regular National Theatre goers. Today, we are run by part-time volunteers from a wide array of backgrounds. Among our various contributors are people who work in theatre, but also people who work in law, medicine, events, marketing and even psychiatry! We are all united by our love for the London theatre scene.
  • Anonymous

    Leave a comment? i saw this play it was natural, straight and believable. the actors were superb. critic me? the sripey dressing gown when hubby came back oooh nasty! this is a fabulous play, i applaud all involved and reccommend anyone reading this to look up the writer and producer. this is real talent.

  • Anonymous

    I really enjoyed this play. It was laugh-out-loud funny, just the right side of squirmy, with an unexpectedly good twist as well. Very natural performances, simple situation and it also had some depth to it. Good, dirty fun!

  • Anonymous

    Saw the show on opening night, was a great watch the cast grabbed my attention throughout. I laughed, was taken by the storyline and the twist made me think too. A great show!

  • Anonymous

    We really enjoyed this show, the acting were excellent and we laughed throughout.
    When is the sequel 🙂
    Well done to all involved.