Threesome

Wed 19th – Mon 31st August 2015

reviews

Megan Erwin

at 11:26 on 25th Aug 2015

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Threesome is about… a threesome! And this is its fundamental problem – its material is something that has been fetishized and sort of done to death in popular culture already. In any play about a threesome, in order to blow an audience away you’ve got to find a way to find some new angle, dynamic, or, hardest of all, conclusion, which Threesome does not do. However, that’s not to say that it’s not an enjoyable way to spend an hour at the Fringe.

Sam (Chris Willoughby) and Kate (Gemma Rook) are a married couple in their thirties that have found themselves in a rut. The play opens with an excellent use of multimedia showing a short film of them awkwardly bobbing in a club, scanning the crowd for a girl that can spice things up in the bedroom. They find Lucy (April Pearson), a confident, sexy and slightly acerbic girl in her twenties, and so the play begins where the film ends - entering Lucy’s flat to do the deed!

Unfortunately, Threesome relies too much on the fact that threesomes are supposed to be inherently a bit naughty to make it interesting, when really in the days of Girls and Game of Thrones it’s going to take a bit more to have audience members on the edge of their seats.

It is a very small setting with chairs on a level and close to the stage and actors within touching distance if you’re in the front row. While this is a good idea, the intimacy and tension that it should create I found entirely lacking as there is not a whiff of chemistry or sexual tension amongst the actors on stage, and they succeeded only in making it rather sweaty, and not in the right way.

To give them their due, the actors, while not terribly impressive, were very likable. Chris Willoughby did a pretty good good-natured bloke-down-the-pub, while Gemma Rook was convincing as his sexually repressed, passive-aggressive wife. I found April Pearson rather grating as the explicit Lucy – one wasn’t sure whether the audience was supposed to be scandalised by the sheer volume of times she said “shove it up my arse”.

Basically, this is a sweet but predictable show. It can only end one of two ways – threesome or no threesome – and pretty much from the start the audience can guess which one it will be. Without this vital ‘will-they-won't-they’ component it falls rather flat, but it still manages to be an enjoyable, if unmemorable, hour.

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Fergus Morgan

at 17:24 on 25th Aug 2015

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Threesome. The word is at once exciting and terrifying in equal measure. For some, it is the holy grail of sexual adventure. For others, it is merely the opportunity to disappoint two instead of one.

It may sometimes seem as if threesomes are just a run-of-the-mill feature in our sexually-liberated post-60s playground but the sobering truth is that a fiery ménage-a-trois is as far away from beige carpeted Middle England as a paunchy middle-aged office worker from Birmingham is from appearing in the next E.L. James novel.

Jamie Patterson’s debut play, a comedy, confirms exactly what I have suspected all along – that despite all the liberating eroticism and taboo-breaking excitement that would accompany a threesome, the overwhelming feeling would be one of crippling awkwardness and supreme embarrassment.

Chris Willoughby and Gemma Rook play Sam and Kate, two frustrated 30-somethings whose marriage has grown stale in the bedroom. April Pearson is Lucy, the rouge-lipped bright young thing they approach to help them reignite that spark.

After a short filmed opening sequence depicting Sam and Kate’s solicitation of Lucy’s help outside a nightclub, the trio enter onto the sparse set of Lucy’s bedroom and, instead of falling lustily into each other’s arms, proceed to deliberate at length over their contrasting opinions on promiscuity and sexual experimentation.

It’s a great idea for a play. Sam’s timidity and Kate’s reticence contrast well with Lucy’s forthright bluntness. The collision between cosy, closeted middle-age and vivacious, vibrant youth is the source of much humour and Patterson’s dialogue provides some truly fantastic moments. When Kate’s aversion to fellating Sam is exposed, Sam’s retort is magnificent: “You might not like putting my willy in your mouth, but I’m not fond of kale.” But throughout, the focus is very much on getting laughs, not on insightful, progressive discussion.

Unfortunately, although the premise is sound and the writing witty enough to sporadically amuse, the play’s structure is formulaic and the cast uninspiring. One character has an excuse to leave the room, the other two share a joke-filled but turgid conversation, the other returns at an unfortunate moment. There is no little chemistry, little enthusiasm, and were it not for the sharpness of Patterson’s script, Threesome would die a forgettable death.

Unfortunately, short of the cast actually stripping down and doing the deed on stage, Threesome doesn’t really have anywhere to go. The pre-coital conversation begins to flounder as the show goes on, and although the jokes become steadily coarser, this cannot redeem it and the promise of its premise is regrettably unfulfilled.

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