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.
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
Until 30th July
– Louise Kingsley