Set up like a small apartment, the venue space of Arch468 affords a performance area that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. As the four actors of Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? saunter from the kitchen to the living room, the living room to the loft, viewers are free to follow them—often becoming part of the scene.
This intimate seat-less set provides a one-of-a-kind experience for the theatregoer. At first you may feel a bit intrusive, standing amidst two couples as they sway in deep embraces. But as the play continues and they glide from room to room, standing in the middle suddenly seems like having the power of invisibility, being given a lens into the most private and heated conversations of a relationship.
Politics is the theme for these heated debates as the pairs of actors interrupt each other and utter incomplete thoughts aloud. Although finished sentences are non-existent in Drunk Enough - based on text by Caryl Churchill - the general idea of clashing opinions clearly acts to guide the play. And this works in such a small performance space, as the tension is increasingly heightened.
Even though it is obvious that the show is meant to lend a prying eye into the inner world of a relationship fuelled by passion—both good and bad—it is less obvious that the two sets of couples are in fact different versions of the same couple. Unless privy to this detail before entering the play, it appears as though the actors are four individual characters, not two dual characters, who are having affairs as they float between partners.
When you do realise that the play is attempting to create two versions of both characters, everything begins to fit a little more smoothly. This experimental technique enhances the already unique atmosphere of Drunk Enough as a whole.
The actors—Tyler Coombes and Jennifer Pick as Sam, and Ryan Saunders and Lucy Grattan as Jack—successfully carry out a potentially dangerous script. Because the plot builds upon thought fragments instead of complete dialogue, and the fact that the audience is sometimes within inches of the performers, it would be easy for distraction to slip in and spoil the flow of words. However, the actors remain invested in the show and never falter in delivering performances full of emotion and energy.
Director Hester Chillingworth shows her comfort with such an uncommon setup and moves the actors from room to room in a fashion that allows audience members to quickly feel at home while prying into the world onstage. This world doesn’t end with the last phrase of the show, either; it continues without pause for five half-hour performances a night, making the experience even more unique.
While it would be easier for a play staged like this to flop than fly, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? combines enough talent to kick off Arch468’s life as a theatre venue with a promising start.