Sex, sex and more sex – everywhere except in the marital bedroom where middle-aged parents Joy and Alan just aren’t getting it together anymore.

It’s not often that the Royal Court warns its audience about adult content – but Nick Payne’s embarrassingly funny, surprisingly touching new play (staged in the more intimate auditorium) begins as explicitly as it means to go on.

We’re never told precisely why GP Joy has gone off sex, but teacher Alan’s pretty fed up with constant rejection. Meanwhile their fifteen year old son Tim has enlisted the help of his more experienced classmate Michelle to show him in precise detail exactly what he needs to know before he asks out an older schoolgirl he fancies.

Payne (who won a most promising playwright award last year) stresses the distinction between lust and intimacy, and is pretty tough on the marriage counselling advice Joy tries to put into practice in a cringe-makingly disastrous attempt to rekindle conjugal relationships. It does rather seem, though, that dressing up as a schoolgirl to fulfil Alan’s fantasy when she’s the one who’s lost interest, is unlikely to help much.

But full marks to the commendably uninhibited cast in Simon Godwin’s swift, very enjoyable 90 minute production, including James Musgrave’s inquisitive Tim and Isabella Laughland’s obliging Michelle, Pippa Haywood’s saddened Joy and – although they both commit the cardinal sin of keeping their socks on in the bedroom – Stuart McQuarrie’s frustrated Alan and Charles Edwards as old flame Stephen who turns up in Joy’s surgery with suspected thrush. 


Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
020 7565 5000
Tube: Sloane Square
Until 9th October
£10 – £15

Review: Louise Kingsley