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In American playwright Rajiv Joseph’s short new play, Doug and Kayleen first come across each other as 8 year old kids in the nurse’s office at school.

She’s a reserved, rather prim little miss with a “sensitive” stomach which makes her queasy.

 He’s already an ungainly walking car-crash – not so much accident prone as eagerly courting physical disaster. Riding his bike off the rooftop wasn’t exactly a sensible idea.

It’s the start of a long-lasting friendship between two needy people which teeters constantly on the brink of a full blown relationship.

He comes to believe her touch can heal him; despite herself, she comes running to his hospital bedside after yet another mishap. Both, when it comes down to it, self-harm.

Although it starts at the beginning and ends at the end, in between the scenes moves back and forwards in time to no particular purpose.

And the territory of sporadic meetings over long periods is familiar.

Yet Justin Audibert’s eloquent production (played out on an unsettling, clinically white diagonal which cuts through the audience) proves compulsive as Mariah Gale’s Kayleen and Felix Scott’s Doug (both first rate) strip to their white underwear at each scene change, selecting different outer garments for each meeting whilst underneath their basic selves remain unchanged over three decades in this bleakly amusing and touching two-hander.

Gate, Pembridge Road W11 3HQ
Tube | Notting Hill Gate
gatetheatre.co.uk
Until 16th February
(£20, matinees £10) 

 

Photo: Ludovic des Cognets


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