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Posts Tagged ‘Vicky Jones’

I first saw Vicky Jones’ work as a director – Jack Thorne’s Mydidae, then Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag (which became a bit of a phenomenon, stage to TV series, already re-commissioned). Then her first play, a 60-minute gem called The One. Now as both writer and director with a 90-minute play about a 30-something Welsh girl moving to London that’s just as frank, funny and fresh as the others.

Dee has taken a temporary job, maternity leave cover, and got herself a tiny flat, where untidiness rules, with every surface covered with stuff. A series of five visitors represent relationships and sexual adventures present and past. There’s ever-so-conservative, ever-so-dull Eddie, wanting a proper relationship, as long as he can be in charge. Vera’s her gym friend who becomes a gay dalliance. Older man Miles came via the internet to satisfy a fetish. Paddy’s a fun-loving toy boy from work. Sam’s the ex from Swansea, a bit old school, who clearly wants to take her back home. 

There are a lot of scenes and the pace is fast as we navigate the journey of Dee’s complex web of relationships and ambivalent sex life. Though it’s very funny, it seemed to me a realistic slice of life for 33-year-old singleton (a sort of racy Bridget Jones) which has a lot to say about contemporary attitudes to relationships and the characteristic conflict between independence and settling down at this age. Amy Morgan carries the play, on stage throughout, changing her behaviour in response to her five visitors. In the supporting cast, I particularly liked Edward Bluemel’s Paddy, a very different role to his recent one in Love in Idleness, and Matthew Aubrey’s archetypal Welsh lad.

Ultz has designed a brilliantly claustrophobic space which revolves to facilitate a 360 degree view of Dee’s world. Jones’ own staging is unsurprisingly sensitive to the material, with a great sense of life changing and moving forward. I liked it.

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I can’t remember when I last experienced such an intense hour of drama. Vicky Jones’ play is original, unpredictable, shocking and edgy. I was enthralled.

Jo lives with slightly older Harry, who once taught her (no, it’s not about that!). We’re with them for just one night whilst they’re waiting for news of Jo’s sister, who is about to give birth. They are visited twice by Kerry wanting to talk about her abuse at the hands of her partner Bradley. Throughout the night they spar, fight, tease and trick each other, playing sexual and psychological games.

You never know when it’s truth or lies, real or faked, playful or hurtful. There’s an extraordinary energy and tension about it that grips you from the off and never lets go. It’s also very funny, but after you’ve laughed you often feel guilty that you did laugh, making you feel complicit in their games.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge has become one of the finest actors around and here she’s mesmerising. Rufus Wright is a great sparring partner and Lu Corfield contrasts and complements them. It’s played on a clever elevated stage like a boxing ring, designed by Anthony Lamble, and Steve Marmion’s direction is masterly.

A great, unmissable new play

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Playwrights normally choose their own subjects, but on this occasion Jack Thorne was asked by new writing theatre company DryWrite to produce something that explored privacy and intimacy, with a man and a woman, set in their shared domestic bathroom. Well, you can’t say he didn’t deliver!

Mydidae is apparently a family of large flower-loving flies. I only scraped a biology ‘O’ level (remember those?), so I had to go to Wikipedia to find that out. I’m still not sure why it’s called that, but perhaps it’s a reference to the audience. You really do feel like a fly on the wall as you sit in the tiny Trafalgar Studio Two space looking into an uber-realistic bathroom without walls, watching David & Marian clean their teeth, shave, pee and bath!

It all starts out very RomCom and not at all uncomfortable to watch. They appear to be a perfectly normal happy couple doing normal everyday things, both together and alone. In addition to the aforementioned acts you expect in a bathroom, they scratch in places and in a way people normally scratch and make customary overuse of the mirror. David talks to a work colleague on the phone about that day’s sales pitch and Marian calls her mum and plans a visit. Yet you know there has been some tragedy in their recent past and there’s an undercurrent of walking on eggshells.

The play takes an extraordinary turn when they take a bath together, and this was the point where, for me, realism turned into implausibility. I didn’t really buy the motivation behind the shocking turn of events and in particular the reaction to them, so as they lost the plot, so did I. The concept is original and the writing is good. Vicky Jones’ staging and Amy Jane Cook’s design are both highly effective. Keir Charles and Phoebe Waller-Bridge are exceptional and their relationship seems ever so real.

Though I’m glad I saw it, my failure to believe in the turn of events ultimately undermined my satisfaction with the play. Great that it’s getting a showcase in the West End, though, and at accessible prices too.

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