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Losing the Plot (Tour - Oldham)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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John Godber’s new offering is a traditional relationship based two hander in which we meet Jack (Steve Huison) the Art teacher with a passions for his subject and the wider field of the Arts and Sally (Susan Cookson), a florist with responsibility for two teenager daughters, the running of the household and Jack and his lofty ideas.

Set entirely in a fantastically designed homely kitchen/diner (Pip Leckenby), the stresses and strained of modern married life begins to unfold.

There are no other present characters and it is left to the audience to imagine the daughters and the ever present (via the telephone) Julie amongst others. This allows the audience to focus on the relationship between Sally and Jack and appreciate the situation they find themselves in.  

There are themes many people will recognise, middle age, financial pressure, the feeling of the middle class being prevented from accessing higher education with recent changes in government policy and the feeling of one partner in the marriage having never achieved their potential.  Unsurprisingly this is the female character who despite being well educated, feels she has been stunted.  Following Jack’s melt down during which he goes missing for a period of time yet returns without solutions to his concerns, Sally seizes the opportunity to explore her creativity and exploit Jack’s selfish behaviour.

Without Huison and Cookson in the roles, this play would fail to ignite. Act One is slow and does little to build the tension and entrench the personalities of the characters. Far too many scenes take place with Sally on the telephone and the dialogue is not strong enough to carry this.

The audience on the night I attended were becoming visibly restless with these scenes and although less in Act Two, this does continue throughout. The material is not ground-breaking but it is good to see the tension rise in the characters and culminate in a good old fashioned slightly inebriated debate on modern life, access to the arts and balancing gender, careers. It also explores ow to keep a personality when becoming a parent and feelings of self worth - wonderfully performed by Huison and Cookson. 

The familiarity these two have with these characters is plain to see and they are the star of the show rather than the script. Generally, Losing the Plot is a pleasant show but not likely to challenge you or emotionally move you but should entertain you and provide some laughs. 

- Ruth Lovett


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