Pros: Flawless performances and a briskly paced story.
Cons: Doesn’t achieve the scope it’s aiming for.
“Are you even listening?” asks Writer (Harry McEntire) of Academic (Tyrone Huntley) during one of the many quarrels that form the bulk of this portrait of a mismatched but tender relationship. It’s a valid question, both literally and in a broader sense.
Jordan Seavey’s accomplished script is dominated by snappy, overlapping exchanges in which the characters react to each other’s differences by talking at vigorous cross purposes. It’s stylistically slick in a Mamet-esque way, and McEntire and Huntley perform it with expert timing and abundant energy. But early on the thought forms: are these people actually connecting in any meaningful way?
The play’s plot zig-zags between various points in Writer and Academic’s relationship, from first date onwards and includes the appearance of “strapping” Dan (Dan Krikler) who represents the potential third point of a love triangle. Both the protagonists are attracted to Dan, but whereas Writer is interested in introducing Dan to their bed, Academic is a stickler for monogamy.
The action is interrupted by chaotic scrabbles of fast forward/rewind motion which form effective bridges between the scenes. But oddly, the movement in these stylised transitions doesn’t seem to originate from any action we see in real time, as far as I could tell. And then there’s the sand that covers the stage – the metaphor is unclear, and not clarified when the characters start displacing handfuls of the stuff solemnly towards the end of the show. The sands of time running out, perhaps?
Seavey’s non-linear structure adds a certain degree of intrigue, but when we revisit key scenes there isn’t enough difference or revelation to make the technique really sing. These moments should flip the audience’s original impressions, but in fact they fall disappointingly flat.
A moment of violence in the third act brings some emotional focus to the narrative, but the play feels as if it’s striving for a sort of universality (just look at the title!) which it doesn’t achieve. The scale remains small and the stakes low.
If Seavey’s point is that we should try harder to listen to one another, perhaps he succeeds in communicating that through the cyclical arguments between Writer and Academic. But any more profound message is lost in the noise of an excellently performed but rather limited character drama.
Writer: Jordan Seavey
Director: Josh Seymour
Producers: Rowan Rutter, Alex Turner
Booking Until: 1 September 2018
Box Office: 01223 357 851
Booking Link: https://www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/productions/2018/homos.php?spektrix_bounce=true