1215 playwright Andrew Taylor, co-writer of West End musical Toxic Bankers, decided to go solo and created The Rules of the Game. This new satirical comedy deals with three guys, three girls and the rules they create to hook up with the opposite sex.
The dialogue vaguely echoes David Nicholls or Nick Hornby: the lines are quick with witty put downs and at times grotesque yet accurate observations. However, this is mainly the case only with the three male characters.
Dan returns from the US, transformed from a socially inept geek to alpha male seducer. He aims to teach his mates ‘the rules of the game’. Super-geek Greg, a very committed Nigel Thomas, is at times hilarious, while the sweet natured Steve, an excellent Patrick Lenny, tries to talk sense into his sex-crazed mates.
Meanwhile in the land of women, newly engaged Samantha tries to teach her friends Jo and mousy Tanja how to bag themselves a husband, with the rules she has discovered.
This is where it all goes wrong: according to Taylor, women want a husband and men want to get laid. Maybe in the Hornby/Nicholls 90s heyday but post-Sex and the City, this premise grates as immature and sexist. The guys pull for one-night stands – yet Jo, the versatile Jennifer McEwan, calls her need for sex ‘near pathological’. She is constantly berated by her friends, who tell her that men don’t want her because she beds them on the first date. No wonder poor Jo is crying in her pyjamas over chocolate and rosé, though it shouldn’t be for lack of husband but because she has shitty condescending friends.
The girls’ scenes were like the sleepover scene in Grease, a guy’s fantasy of female interaction. While Steve was the male voice of reason, the girls didn’t seem to have one: too busy squabbling over borrowed clothes.
These educated modern working women in their twenties were unrecognisable to me, as an educated working woman in her twenties. I have had my share of alcohol induced love-life analysing but I’m yet to hear the cry: “I just want a husband!” Oh, and the high-fiving and calling each other ‘sister’? Also not that common among British middle class. Not to mention the giggling.
Mr Taylor might be well informed about the mind of men and the sex-life of deep-sea creatures but when it comes to women he needs to do some research because this sister ain’t buyin’ it.