Pros: An interesting exploration of one person’s reaction to the infidelity in her relationship. Contains a decent twist and ample amounts of laugh out loud humour.
Cons: Packed full of metaphor and simile which comes across as a little patronising. Whilst the language is full and descriptive, the character lacks contrast and depth and is uniformly delivered.
Affairs is an hour long articulation of the impact that a husband’s infidelity has on his wife’s life, through her eyes. We are told her story – how they met, what her friends and family thought, how their relationship developed, her views on sex and how she discovers his indiscretion. We then accompany her on the journey she takes after her discovery, and the place she arrives at is both surprising and empowering. It is a well crafted concept and I liked the idea very much. The progression feels natural and credible as a story in brief and challenges some commonly held views on sex and relationships.
In delivering the concept though, the script is crammed to the rafters with literary devices such as similes, metaphors and anecdotes. Whilst colourful and producing a decent helping of well written humour, I found it a little patronising and quite distracting at times. Some of the emotions and the flow of the story get interrupted by augmentation, which the audience don’t really need and which distracts from the train of thought. A good case in point is the final scene, when she meets up with her estranged husband again. Looking into his eyes she sees something she explains with a detailed recount of a story from her youth – it just isn’t necessary and it detracts from the impact of that moment. Simple words can often be very powerful and say so much more than verbosity.
The character is by design a compliant and tame personality and in the early stages of the piece Sophie Walton delivers this to a tee. Her comic timing is good and she illustrates her situation with appropriate pathos. As the character developed, however, I felt the delivery didn’t. To drive the story in the direction it goes, there is anger, revenge and newfound self-awareness, yet all of these are delivered at almost identical pitch. I just didn’t believe the character – I didn’t find the memoir credible primarily because, without the depth of emotion, the direction the character takes just doesn’t sit true. This is not a tale of a betrayed housewife moving on with her life with a new hobby; the story moves away from the mainstream and to give that substance I feel it needs more gravitas in the emotional responses and a more clearly defined step into the successful new persona.
Unfortunately, there were further distractions during the performance from the street noise outside the theatre. People talking and laughing, vehicle noise and sirens were all very audible during the performance and at times almost drowned out Walton’s quietly spoken prose entirely. I have seen other productions at the friendly and relaxed Camden People’s Theatre and this hasn’t been an issue, hence I think it is the hushed nature of this particular one that would make it better suited to a more soundproofed venue.
Affairs is a piece with a worthy concept with enormous potential, and if the writers just trust the audience a little, and the actor defines the journey more distinctly, it could be a cracking tale.
Author: Rob Young with Sophie Walton
Director: Heather Ward
Producer: House of Greenland
Booking Until: 7th March 2014
Box Office: 0207 419 4841