Sam and Emma’s Mum has cancer. She needs a transfusion - and needs one from the rare blood type of AB negative. Joe is a match. He is not allowed to donate because he is in a homosexual relationship with Sam. Even for those in monogamous relationships, current policy denies active homosexuals from donating.
This is a controversial enough topic to dominate a play, yet the production managed to be about so much more than a socio-medical policy. It could have very easily become a vehicle of controversy, but to the credit of the company, family and relationship dynamics took centre stage. I was incredibly impressed with the easy chemistry between Sam and Joe; in my experience, far too often in theatre the token ‘gay’ couple is limp-wristed to the point of caricature, with the feeling that if there is no simpering the sexual orientation of the characters is not sufficiently clear. However, the dynamic between the couple was affectionate and loving: altogether healthier than their heterosexual counterparts, Emma and her flash boyfriend Charlie.
Charlie was a character of unprecedented disgustingness even from his first interaction with Sam, cutting him off with a cruel ‘Already heard the Queen’s speech this year’ and a fey gesture. His infidelity to Emma was later shown with graphic candidness; dressed only in miniscule underwear, he chucks an evidently used condom into a bin. Though Emma was far from an angel - enticed by the wealth and security Charlie’s high-flying career was able to give her, and selfishly leaving all responsibility for their mother with Sam. Despite her unattractiveness as a character, she did not deserve the extent of bad karma coming back in her face. As such the audience were unwilling to indulge in the slightest schadenfreude at her ultimate betrayal, which was truly horrible.
Dirty, in the coarse sense of the word, yes - Sam opens the play with a monologue on pubic hair, asking why it isn’t treated with the same care as the hair on your head, despite all hair follicles being made up of the same formula of keratin. This makes parallels between the clean, donate-able blood of heterosexuals and the ‘dirty’ blood of homosexuals. Dirty, but at the same time thought-provoking, serious and tender.