Pamela Carter’s new play promises to be an interesting, thought provoking study of the relationship between the two genders, and their interaction with risk. However, it fails to deliver. Written as a self styled response to Pierre de Marivaux’s ‘La Dispute’, the piece aims to open up the age old debate about what makes men, ‘men’ and women ‘women’.
The play opens in an unnamed office where the audience meet lawyer Helen (Selina Boyack) and hedge fund manager Charlie (Stuart Bowman). We quickly learn of a fling between the pair resulting in a pregnancy and what follows is the relentless bombardment of popular statements about the differences between men and woman.
The lack of chemistry from Boyack and Bowman coupled with an uninspiring script makes for an uneasy start, leaving the audience feeling they are watching an intellectual slanging match, not unlike a middle-class episode of The Jeremy Kyle Show.
Towards the end of the first half the play picks up much needed pace and Stewart Laing’s direction becomes apparent: Charlie reveals his involvement in a TV production company that has secretly brought up four children in isolation from the rest of society and intends to broadcast them meeting for the first time.
The audience are invited to follow the characters through a door into a Garden of Eden like room where we are greeted by the irritatingly sweet Krystal (Elizabeth Chan) and her humorous meeting with David Judge’s loveable Blake. What ensues is an entertaining and childlike fusion of excitement, curiosity and discovery which has an innocence to it reminicent of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Cush Jumbo as Charlene and Adrian Quinton as Scott, both put in good performances, racing in between the audience and playing in the onstage water stream.
But the real surprise moment is the sudden interruption of the play by a recorded video of an interview with writer Carter, director Laing and the science writer, Matt Ridley. The clip explores the ‘nature vs nurture’ quandary and satisfies the audience with a post show discussion before any applause has been handed out. Laing’s realisation and execution of the play is the redeeming factor of what would otherwise be a predictable script that lacks focus.