From Victorian male fantasy figure on the small screen to 21st century

object of lust on stage, Romola Garai seems to be capturing the market in

young women moulding themselves into the clandestine extra-marital image

their adulterous men desire.

In Penelope Skinner’s acute, explicit new drama she plays frustrated

thirty-something teacher, Becky, whose husband (now that she’s in the early,

as yet unnoticeable, stage of pregnancy) would rather discuss the organic

meat for tomorrow’s lasagne than have sex or watch porn DVDs with his

increasingly desperate wife.

With time on her hands during the summer vacation, it’s no wonder she’s

susceptible to the dubious charms of Dominic Rowan’s Oliver when he turns up

on her doorstep, fresh from amateur dramatics rehearsals in his dashing

highwayman’s outfit, to deliver the second hand bike he’s selling.

It’s meant to be a no-strings affair, but (as Skinner shows in an often very

funny script overflowing with innuendo) sexually liberated or not, the

female body can’t always function independently of the heart.

Alexandra Gilbreath contributes a fussing neighbour whose effusiveness hides

a deep well of unhappiness, and Phil Cornwell is used and bemused as the

widowed plumber who comes to fix the juddering “sweaty” pipes.

But the

indelible image of Joe Hill-Gibbins immensely entertaining production is of

Garai’s Becky, hair flying freely, as she pedals blissfully along the

country lanes into the thrusting embrace of her lover – before coming

crashing miserably down to earth and reality with her growing bump.


Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
Tube: Sloane Square
020 7565

Until 30th July

– Louise Kingsley