Hope Theatre, London – until 22 July 2017
The warnings of full frontal nudity shouldn’t deter people from seeing this but nor should it be the only reason to see this (Naked Attraction is on All 4, everyone) because this play, about three couples facing the end of their relationships, is a study in human character and looks at relationships beneath the surface of attraction. This transfer from similarly sized Theatre N16 is a very intimate play.
There is a lot of attraction and sex in this before the play even begins. Nastazja Somers’ Alina and Charlie Allen’s soldier are naked and having sex in Szymon Ruszczewski’s string cage set, giving us an insight yet distance from their intimate moments. We begin in West Germany, it is the early 80s before moving on to stories set in London. Alina and soldier’s son Elliott (Elliot Rogers) is now in his late teens/twenties in 1999 in a relationship with Casey (Christina Bason), an Aussie backpacker who doesn’t want to go but rejects his efforts to make her stay. The third story involves Holly (Sarah Hastings), previously married to a man she is now with Erica (Monty Leigh). Set in the present day there isn’t any judgement from others but Holly has her own inner doubts about what she is.
Firstly it is super exciting to review a show containing lesbians, especially as Pride weekend is upcoming. Theatre has neglected female LGBTQI on the whole and No Offence, Somers and writer BJ McNeil’s company, focus on female lead theatre and this show definitely puts women front and centre. They have their weaknesses and their strengths but this is the most honest look at relationships I have ever seen. Elliott and Casey’s storyline in particular rang true to me. They loved each other but there was a feeling that they were young and this was never meant to be whereas Holly and Erica’s internal conflicts worked their story had a lot of external factors, which I would have liked to see dominate more rather than Erica’s illness. The performances are all great, Rogers and Allen showing male vulnerability, especially when egos are fragile and they don’t have the upper hand with Somers and Bason’s Alina and Casey’s determination to not be dominated by men and what society expects of them. Whilst I was totally convinced by Erica and Holly’s relationship I did feel we didn’t delve into the background as we did with the others with Erica’s story less developed than the other characters Monty Leigh performance seems simply a trigger for Holly’s woes rather than a character in her own right as Hastings dominated their scenes.
I also wanted to see more Alina and the soldier, their story runs through the play and whilst concluded with monologues at the end I felt I needed more of them to really get to the grips with the rest of the production.
I would also love to see the string cage and the playin a bigger space, making a small venue feel even smaller make this play feel too intimate. This play is about witnessing intimacy at a distance, when people are being candid and vulnerable and small space cannot provide distance.