Rafe and Pete, both in their mid-twenties, have been together for seven and a half years. They are content enough, even contemplating marriage, but their relationship seems to be in a rut. Could it be the lack of sexual experience with a different partner? They decide to meet up with mutual friend Michael, a handsome athlete whom they chose among their Facebook friends, asking him to help them out with their problem – obviously without letting his boyfriend Andrew know about it. What seems like an unproblematic one-night stand at first quickly spirals out of control.
Jake Brunger’s new comedy about “sex and commitment in the 21st century” is witty, laugh-out-loud funny and thought-provoking at the same time. The first scene when Rafe talks a mile a minute to convince Michael of agreeing to their rather unusual proposal whilst Pete remains silent establishes the farcical tone of the play. The situation becomes even more absurd as Pete and Rafe discuss their different preferences in bed during a one-on-one conversation with Michael, thereby revealing needs the other partner hasn’t fulfilled.
Jonathan O’Boyle’s fast-paced production shows ensemble work at its best. Cai Brigden as the nervous, sensitive Rafe contrasts well with Michael Gilbert’s quiet yet rakish Pete whilst Peter Hannah’s dashing Michael reacts to the embarrassing situation with increasing bemusement. Andrew (Michael James) is not actually part of the deal so he appears somewhat later but he makes a strong impact as the injured party, proving a master of comic timing with a shy melancholic smile.
Despite its farcical structure, this play asks serious questions about modern relationships, self image, and the fear of commitment. At one point one of the characters confronts his partner: “Spiders are scary. Terrorists are scary. Cancer is really scary. But… monogamy?”
The sparse, modern set by Cecilia Carey resembling a stylish cocktail bar with flashing lights in different colours also works well as a flat..
Jake Brunger’s play is witty with well written characters and beautifully staged by Jonathan O’Boyle with an excellent cast – another winner for Theatre503.
Reviewed by: Carolin Kopplin
Photo: Richard Lakos
Four Play is playing at London’s Theatre 503 until 12 March