Venue: Taurus
Where: Manchester

Three’s a Crowd; Four’s a Motherf----
is a sequel to Loitering with Intent and follows William (Neil Ashton) and Benjamin (Kurt Nikko) after their civil partnership. Their relationship comes under strain when William’s much–married mother Lavinia (Jenny Hayes) and Benjamin’s old flame Martin (David Bresnahan) both ask to become the couple’s lodger.

Director Helen Parry responds well to the wider scope of the play and is able to deliver some genuine laugh out loud moments. Ashton and Nikko, freed of the lengthy speeches in the first play, are better able to flesh out their characters and deliver less mannered performances.

This is a more conventional play than it’s predecessor. Rather than rehash their own opinions writers Alasdair Jarvie and Neil Dymond-Green explore the tensions that arise when friends and relatives feel marginalised by a couple’s marriage. But the points made are fairly obvious and the manner in which they are articulated is crude.

Lavinia and Martin, the new characters, are two dimensional plot devices. They represent the supposedly hedonistic single lifestyle that the newlyweds have sacrificed and are a way of bringing conflict into the relationship. But the way in which this is demonstrated strains belief. It is conceivable that the pair might spontaneously bond in a Madonna exercise routine - but not in the early hours of the morning.

The writers seem impatient with anything that is not central to the main plot. The possibility that a civil partnership might be regarded as less ‘genuine’ than a ‘proper’ marriage is mentioned but not explored. The revelation that Benjamin has been suspended from his lecturer’s job after a complaint of sexual harassment from a female student is dismissed as irrelevant in a single sentence.

Three’s a Crowd; Four’s a Motherf---- is the middle part of a planned trilogy. Hopefully the third time will be the charm.

-  Dave Cunningham