This was the first time I had seen this play by Alexi Kaye Campbell and although I knew a little about the content, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
On entering the auditorium I was immediately struck by the minimalist set with black walls. I always look forward to the sets at CTW as the attention to detail on their sets is first class, however, although this was a very basic set it was the perfect backdrop to what proved to be a powerful performance and very strong production.
With only 4 actors in the cast and split between 2 time periods, one set residing in the 1950s, and one set in the present day. We see during the play, the action move between the two eras, tracking developments between the two sets of characters.
Pre-1967, any sort of consensual sex between male adults even in private meant they could be sent to prison for the offence of great indecency, which meant they lived with the fear of prosecution.
So, our first characters in the 1950’s are Philip and his wife Sylvia, who brings home a work colleague, Oliver. There is an immediate attraction between Oliver and Philip which we see progress throughout the duration of their story. In the modern day story, Gay Couple Philip and Oliver have split up – Philip leaving Oliver for his promiscuous sexual activities outside of their relationship and Oliver’s turns to his close friend and emotional rock, Sylvia.
In both, times Oliver was played by Lewis Schaefer. Lewis gave a great performance and I particularly felt he shone in the more contemporary character struggling with so many issues with his relationships and sexual addictions.
Sally Rawlins as Sylvia was strong in both her eras. I particularly thought her monologue on the park bench which was exceptional and gave us a beautiful insight into her plight and the need for her husband to be happy even at her own pain and loss. By contrast, her frustration at being an emotional crutch for Oliver in the modern era was perfectly balanced and well played.
I thought Chris Green in his variety of roles was fabulous. His Nazi, the doctor, the golfer and his scene changes complete with side looks and fluff picking made it all more interesting.
However, it was Max Taylor Saunders as Philip, who really struck me with his intense portrayal of both characters. This was a masterclass on embodying a character and delivering two contrasting performances.
The play itself was a great production, and if you are not easily offended by language or action, then I would strongly suggest you go and see this as it hits the mark with such a powerful storyline and it reminds us how far the LGBT movement has come and is still fighting for its place in some instances.