Saturday, 11 February 2012

Sex with a Stranger

OK, I bet that got your attention!

I've been following Russell Tovey on twitter for a while (he plays George the Werewolf in 'Being Human, was Alonso in the Doctor Who / Titanic Christmas episode, and Henry Knight in 'Sherlock') and he has been tweeting about the play he is currently starring in, 'Sex with a Stranger', by Stefan Golaszewski.

It sounded interesting, so I booked myself a ticket, and set off to London early this morning. It was cold. Very cold. The journey took a little longer than expected, as my first train got delayed, so we went rather a long way round, but fortunately there are plenty of trains from Swindon (where I was changing), and I'd left myself lots of time. I enjoyed sitting in a nice, warm train as it travelled though wintry landscape, especially as it was a beautiful bright, sunny, clear day.

London was freezing cold - literally. There was ice on the fountains in Trafalgar Square, and snow still lying under some of the trees in St James' Park. The mounted sentries at Horseguards looked rather cold (although not as cold as the poor un-mounted chap. I suppose that the fact you are sitting on a horse, even if you have to keep completely still, must give you a little warmth.

There were a lot of people in Trafalgar Square, as part of Amnesty International's day day of solidarity with Syria - and massive numbers of police, although there seemed not to be any problems, so far as I could tell.

After fortifying myself with some good beer, and mediocre fish and chips in a pub just off Whitehall, I popped into the National Gallery for an hour or so. I like it there.

Today, I looked in on a couple of my favourites: Rousseau's 'Surprised!' and Stubbs' 'Whistlejacket', for instance,  and checked that the Van Gogh 'Sunflowers' doesn't say 'for Amy' on it, then wandered (via 'The Ambassadors'  and a completely unexpected (to me) Da Vinci cartoon ) into the Sainsbury Wing, where they keep the medieval paintings. It's amazing to see paintings which are over 500 years old but still so bright and clear.

 Richard II's diptych, painted in around 1395, is stunning, for instance.

I then headed over to Trafalgar Studios for the play itself.

It's short, and has just three cast members.

Adam    Russell Tovey
Grace    Jaime Winstone
Ruth      Naomi Sheldon

We start with Adam and Ruth, making their way back to Ruth's flat, via night buses and cabs and a kebab, making awkward conversation to fill that all-to-long gap between picking one another up in a night club, and getting back to Grace's home so they can have sex. There are a lot of awkward silences, and both actors are very convincing. It's funny, but in a slightly unsettling, too close for comfort kind of way. Ruth originally comes across as brash and confident, but as time passes exposes her own insecurity.

As the play continues, there are flashbacks to Adam preparing to go out, from which we learn that he has a partner, Ruth, and see the build up to his night out, including Ruth's half-formed suspicions, and Adam's angry response to them. There is a scene where we see Grace compliment Adam on his shirt, and then jump back, to see Ruth, alone on stage and in total silence, carefully ironing it for him, ready for his evening out. 

The play doesn't resolve these issues - we don't see any of the aftermath of Adam and Grace's one night stand.

I was very impressed by all three actors. The studio is tiny, seating fewer than 100 people (in 3 rows) so it's very intimate, and there was very little in the way props (and no physical scenery at all - just light and sound) which must make it harder to capture and keep an audience's suspension of disbelief.

I'm glad I went. (and for what it's worth, Tovey takes his shirt off - twice - allowing one to admire more than just his acting skills...!)
(There are some amazing pictures taken by photographer Elliott Franks, of the cast, here)

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