Pros: Some touching moments sprinkled here and there.
Cons: Plodding and prosaic, nothing really surprises.
It is to my great shame as a born and bred theatregoing Londoner that this show was my first visit to the King’s Head Theatre. Now concentrating largely on opera, Go See is a rare foray back into drama. The décor of the theatre resembles an Eighties strip club, which is perfect as the play opens on a peep show – although you do get the feeling it always looks like that…I was given a seat in the third row; it seemed strange to have assigned seating in a smallish fringe theatre, an added quirk to this interesting venue.
Go See, which is an industry term for a modelling casting, concerns the relationship between Marie (Lauren Fox) a peep show performer from a poor family in Texas and David (Peter Tate) the gay professor writing about her for his book on human sexuality and sexual practices. Outside the booth and its one-way glass, David accidentally/on-purpose steps in front of Marie’s bike introducing himself as Paul, the department store owner, and Marie re-invents herself as Michelle, a glamorous model from a rich family in Texas.
The play tracks the parallel relationships, both personally and professionally until they find each other out. Both Paul and Michelle’s dates, and David and Marie’s sessions at the booth, take on an interview style. This tactic seems to be employed to give an excuse for the characters to talk about their background, which would feel a little false even in a small dose but this is all the play ever amounts to, nothing else really happens.
The narrative seems to depend entirely on the inconsistencies the audience observes between David and Marie’s dual identities, the novelty of which wears thin pretty quickly. The dialogue often feels a little generic and impersonal with no unique perspectives offered, adding to the laboured feeling of the piece.
It’s not really the performances that let the show down – both Fox and Tate are competent though not spectacular. Tate has a seriously dodgy American accent that seems to randomly switch on and off but this is not a huge issue. With a more dynamic piece these two could have been more impressive but they are unsurprisingly constrained by the writing.
There are however some moments that really clicked in the piece, for example when David discusses his lover’s death from AIDS. There is a distinct and detailed humanity to the dialogue and performance of this section and the audience were clearly moved. Also, the ending of the play was almost chilling in its execution and the characters’ intimacy was wonderfully and painfully observed. It’s not enough to save the show though it does allow me to leave with a slightly more positive vibe.
The nature of memory, identity and sexuality, as well as how they intersect are interesting subjects for examination. However we need a personal connection to the characters and a compelling, exciting narrative to keep us interested yet I didn’t really get that from Go See. Different material might bring more opportunities to show something unique about human nature but with this piece, The Playground Studio miss the mark.
Author: Norris Church Mailer
Director: Sondra Lee
Producer: The Playground Studio
Box Office: 0207 478 0160
Booking Until: 29 November 2014