The summary seemed to have promise: “A sharp, contemporary nod to the much-loved bedroom farce, Affair Play unravels over the course of one turbulent dinner as four would-be adults scheme their way into each other’s pants.”
Unfortunately, in every important regard, this summary is inaccurate. Reading the programme afterwards and seeing the writer Sam Floyd credited as ‘script mogul”’ shows that old truism that self-praise is no recommendation.
Trish (Lucy Norton) and husband Craig (Remy Coll) are having Trish’s friend Liv (Anthea Greco) and husband Shaun (Sam Floyd) over to dinner. Craig and Liv, having attentions for each other instead of the dinner, cause a mishap which changes the course of the planned meal.
This gives one opportunity to see Trish’s simmering frustration with Craig. Subsequently, we get to see Shaun’s disdain for Liv. So, the matrimonial discontent is quickly established, through biliousness rather than wit. However, we’re not given any reason to believe that any of the illicit relationships to follow are credible, or care too much about their possible effects.
The characters are one-dimensional and stereotypical; Liv is the trophy wife with no interest other than her appearance, Craig the man-child, and Trish the scolding wife-mother who isn’t given much depth by a little psychobabble. Shaun is a successful security contractor, who doesn’t shy away from insulting Liv over dinner. As such an unpleasant guest and tormentor of her friend, it’s a mystery why Trish would welcome his advances.
We’ve seen unsympathetic love interests before, such as Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, but they need to have some redeeming feature, and Shaun has none. Similarly, there’s no sense of why Liv would maintain an affair with a pretty average guy like Craig.
Coll and Greco do a good job of the slapstick elements. This talent isn’t used to its potential though, as it might be if the play had any tension that illicit amour will be discovered. As a result, there is no need for the sort of desperate covering-up that might have given comedic opportunity. And it needed this; the opening night crowd got few laughs from this mercilessly unfunny outing.
The Brunswick Mechanics Institute: 270 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Performance: Wednesday 9 December 2015 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 19 December 2015
Bookings: (03) 9387 3376 or online at: www.freshlygroundtheatre.com
For more information, visit: www.freshlygroundtheatre.com for details.
Image: courtesy of Freshly Ground Theatre
Review: Jason Whyte