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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Talented new playwright Nick Payne has bagged the George Devine Award following his hilarious If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet at the Bush last year; Wanderlust is more closely structured, and fresh and funny about adolescent sex, playing away and a stuttering middle-class marriage.

This is a highly explicit small-scale composition: simulated scenes of oral sex, fumbling sex, fantasy sex, rampant sex and - when Joy (Pippa Haywood) and Stephen (Charles Edwards), an ex-lover, sit down for a naked (not quite) picnic - simmering sex, fall over each other in merry Rabelaisian profusion.

Joy is a doctor married to English teacher and departmental head Alan (Stuart McQuarrie). Stephen comes to see Joy in her surgery about suspected thrush. Alan is pinioned by romantically frustrated Clare (Sian Brooke) in his office. The mixed doubles go to a bar and intermingle unwittingly in Simon Goodwin’s clever, clinical staging.

Meanwhile, Alan and Joy’s schoolboy son Tim (James Musgrave), asks Michelle (Isabella Laughland) about sexual etiquette in advance of a date; she instructs him graphically while gradually falling for his callow charm. It’s all done with disarming candour, and finally places Haywood’s beautifully detailed, blame-free mother at the centre of our concerns.


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