The 1970s. Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Five twenty somethings attempting to make their way in the world turn to a life of self-sufficiency and localised revolt against the system that they feel oppresses them. The irony is, of course, that they are using Daddy’s inheritance money to fund their newfound lifestyle. Played out within one small room, this helps foster the inherent claustrophobia and conflicts of interests that would present themselves in such a situation.
The best aspect of this production is undoubtdly Polly Goss’ script. Although occasionally trite and formulaic at the beginning, this feels necessary in order to fully delineate the stark characters that develop over the course of the play. The dialogue becomes considerably more nuanced and natural as the play progresses and the characters truly come into their own. Of these, Laurence Williams’ performance as Victor stands out for the way in which he so aptly captures the ironic nature of his character rendering him both believable and intensely likeable. The plot is limited but does not need more substance as it is predominantly a psychological exploration into the motivations and incentives that drive their behaviour. What becomes more challenging for the audience to swallow is their ability to sympathise with the actions and value systems of each and every character.
The use of a projection was inspired. The addition of a mixed media element that was slightly out of focus and more than a little disorientating to parallel the characters’ internal struggles, caught between hedonistic pleasure and the belief in their ability to precipitate social change, was extremely effective. Although it could have easily felt fragmented, the lead in and out of it was done beautifully within context, making it work expertly.
There isn’t a happy ending; how could there be in a world of misplaced naivety and innocence? The drama and self-exploration are plentiful and make Not my Cup of Tea a very strong piece of thought-provoking theatre indeed.