WatchingTwo and Two Make Sex, first performed in 1973, I was reminded of the difference in attitudes to morals 30-odd years has made. Of course, human being don’t change very much in their inmost desires; it’s the expression in public of these which has mutated. We all know that the swinging Sixties started late and spilled over into the next decade. The rate of acceleration has increased since then.
The six people we meet in Richard Harris and Leslie Darbon’s farce are all in a dither about sex, one way or another. There’s established married couple George (Michael Shaw) and Clare (Ann Wenn). He’s suffering from a mid-life crisis, accurately diagnosed by Clare’s agony-aunt friend Ruth (Sarah Ogley). The object of his desire is Jane (]Rosanna Miles]), young enough to be his daughter.
Jane, whose father (Richard Blain) walked out on his family years before, is sharing her bedsitter with perpetual student (and serial fantasist) Nick (Iain Ridley). As the tangles mesh themselves until they finally unravel into a conclusion, people may indeed get into the same bed, on and off the stage, but they don’t actually have intercourse in it. We are allowed to laugh, but never to feel uncomfortable.
Richard Frost’s direction is perhaps just a trifle too leisurely, though he coaxes some good performances from his cast. Ridley, especially when posing as George’s psychiatrist, is very funny and Wenn matches him as the wife who can see what’s going on all too well – and yet not quite clearly enough. Miles is an engaging Jane; you know she will settle down to become a good as well as alluring home-maker.
Ogley and Blain are in different ways the plot-stirrers here, on the periphery of the action and at the same time vital components. George, lusting after forbidden fruits in a thoroughly gentlemanly old-fashioned way, is a bit of a slow-burn characterisation in Shaw’s interpretation. Designer Maurice Rubens makes effective use of a small stage to provide the split-level, dual-location set which the authors have specified.