seated at director Josh Roche’s production of
Middle-class couple Paul and Allison seek to reinvigorate their worn out sex lives by introducing a third person into their bedroom, with rules and regulations, of course.
Middle-class couple Paul and Allison seek to reinvigorate their worn out sex lives by introducing a third person into their bedroom, with rules and regulations, of course. This person will not be of equal standing in the relationship, and is to come and go on demand. (Please excuse the pun.) Allison is petulant and whiny, and Paul is lame verging on creepy, but for some unaccountable reason, they succeed in finding two assistants: Mariella, the hip young lesbian, and Jay, the mischievous, easy-going bisexual. None of the quartet can stop their romantic feelings from interfering, and excitement is bought only at the expense of jealousy, doubt and despair.
While today’s generation generally praises liberal attitudes to sex, A Third treats sexual adventure as a dangerous, unpredictable toy, asking how much is too much, and who its victims are likely to be. Sex is available everywhere, in every club, on every porn site, every Craiglist request, every text message, and marriage is no real barrier. Almost every conversation revolves around it. Sex is present in nauseating abundance, but it has ceased to satisfy. Sex has become unsexy.
While this is an intriguing claim to make, it is hard to say whether it is made on purpose or by accident. Too often, Jacqmin’s analysis of sexual theories is prioritised over forming interesting characters who can have sexual chemistry of their own. For a play which relies so heavily on emotional investment in the two leads and the insistent dissections of their relationship, Jacqmin’s Allison and Paul are not the fascinating, multi-layered or admirable protagonists likely to inspire this kind of investment. It is a tribute to the acting that Asha Reid’s and Jeremy Legat’s conviction injected a necessary liveliness into the couple’s tiffs, which could have otherwise become monotonous. Similarly, in a play about couples objectifying others for their own gain, it is a shame that the playwright aids this objectification. It is, again, a tribute to the acting that Will Alexander’s breath-taking naturalism as Jay and Lucy Roslyn’s charming subtlety as Mariella managed to flesh out characters which could easily have been flat types, defined entirely by sexual magnetism and orientation respectively.
However, although flawed, A Third is still relatable stuff. Neither pro-threesome nor anti-threesome, it earnestly explores and evaluates human desire for experimentation. Rather than a sharply constructed plot, this is an ‘Imagine if’ thought experiment, which will leave you with plenty to mull over at curtain call.