This delves into the complexities of lives ... and relationships by exploring themes of loneliness and longing, writes Rebecca Haslam.
Made up of half a dozen individuals each gracing various sets, all of which hold their own place on the small floor, the performance begins by introducing us to Nicola (Sarah Mansley), a rather uptight young woman who, as the fiancée of a man who doesn’t work, feels all the major life decisions are being made and undertaken by her.
The man in her life, Dan, (John Cotgrave) six months on from leaving the army, drowns his sorrows and vents his woes to barman Ambrose, (Richard McArtney) who, at home, is struggling to care for his sick father, grateful for the help offered to him by carer/estate agent Charlotte (Maria Sykes). She in turn is one of only a few friends her colleague Stewart (Dan Henry) has, and with the pair having struck up an unlikely friendship, it is through videos she lends him that her ‘second-side’ is revealed – that of a woman who, despite her Christian beliefs, indulges in the very ‘adult’ side of life and takes great pleasure from doing so as Stewart soon finds out.
Maria’s performance as a woman juggling almost two completely different personalities is impressive and she is by far the best performer out of the six. Her interactions, as Charlotte, with Ambrose, are passionate, truthful and emotive – you really can feel like she empathises with the situation regarding his father deeply and it’s nice to see some more serious moments like this scattered throughout a performance which, for the most part, draws echoes of laughter from the majority of the audience.
What makes the production work most of all however is how it has a lot of recognisable truths both glaringly obvious and more subtly hidden throughout it. For instance, Ambrose talks of his father walking out when he was younger and there’s a young man in a photo with him who was almost certainly his lover. It’s not admitted, but it’s guessable that he died of AIDS.
The idea that so many of us hide our true selves and our deepest passions out of fear of what others might think, like Charlotte, also plays a key part, as does accepting when something is or isn’t working, like Nicola and Dan. Finally there is the use of internet/advert dating which Imogen gives a try, but hides under the pretence she’s going out for a night with the girls as she feels uneasy admitting the truth to her brother.
By bringing all six cast members onto the floor for the final scene, Ambrose having lost his father, Stewart having been up all night staring at the TV hoping to find some saucy material at the end of another of Charlotte’s tapes, the play ends on a fitting note. Despite the individual struggles the characters are dealing with, together with the space between them on stage they are at the same time strongly united in the reality that life isn’t always easy, but that somehow, you go on living anyway.