Following The Wardrobe Ensemble’s previous creations, including the depicted opening of a Swedish furniture store (
This is theatre to be seen by everyone. Though perhaps not with your parents
We are transported back to the early 1970s, (just after the 60s’ sexual revolution), by means of a jukebox sequence of popular music, rewinding from today to early David Bowie, with cultural references to Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher thrown in for good measure. This aural mash-up in some ways reflects the structure of the piece itself, which flits back and forth between three distinct narrative strands, each focusing on a couple in the early phases of their relationship. The transitions in and out of the various stages of each are seamlessly created, thanks to the company’s integrated approach to sound, lighting and physicality.
Though it is set in the 70s, the piece succeeds in encouraging parallels to be made with attitudes today. Without thrusting a singular ideology or morality upon us, the company explores attitudes to feminism, homosexuality, and the ubiquity of pornography, in ways which cannot fail to chime with even the most conservative spectator. Of course, there may be moments which are shocking to some, and others may feel uncomfortable here and there, which means this isn’t the play for everyone. But the recognition of those moments, and an interrogation of what it is that informs such a response, may be the most valuable impact of the play. Indeed, the issue of how our particular views on aspects of sex are informed permeates constantly.
The piece is deliberately and unashamedly comedic throughout, yet its carefully woven sequencing ensures that our level of immersion in the worlds of the characters is masterfully controlled. Repeatedly we are drawn into moments of genuine intimacy, before being bludgeoned (as two characters are all too literally beaten) back into more distanced reality. The to-ing and fro-ing of much of the piece is held together by the patiently developing story of Anthony. It is his journey which establishes and holds much of the dramatic tension and ensures that there is a definitive, yet not a little surprising, conclusion. This is theatre to be seen by everyone. Though perhaps not with your parents.