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Tom Daldry’s Polyamory? at Hastings Fringe

Tom Daldry’s Polyamory? at Hastings Fringe

Thumbs up for Polyamory?

HOT’s Erica Smith reviews Tom Daldry’s second play which debuted at Hastings Fringe on Friday night and runs until Sunday 28 July.

Tim loves Alice. Alice likes Tim. Mark has a house. Alice and Tim need a home. They all come to ‘an arrangement’. What could possibly go wrong?

On a hot and sticky night with the rumblings of a storm in the background, I wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about spending my evening in the small back room of the Pig’s Palace watching a dark play about dysfunctional relationships. Despite my reservations, this one-hour play drew me in, held my attention and made me appreciate the vitality of fringe theatre.

We were led into the back room which had been transformed into a ‘theatre in the square’. Two stages were set up against opposite walls with seats lined up against the other two walls – audience members facing each other across the performance space. In contrast to the main bar, the space felt very cold which complemented the atmosphere of the play.

The performance starts with Alice and Tim, the two young protagonists, on opposing stages being controlled by Mark, the older man who has allowed them to live in his house in exchange for participating in ‘role-playing games’. The dialogue is short, sharp, circular and funny – like Pinter or Orton for the 21st century.

Mark is a raddled older man who works at the Council and pretends to be an MP with a sordid desire to control his young lodgers. Tim is a writer who has become increasingly depressed and isolated as a result of the controlling relationship. Alice is a blogger with self-esteem issues. Her tiny camera on a tall tripod plays a valuable role in the performance.

The performance is like a dance – to begin with the action is between only two of the three protagonists at any one time. The stage set is appropriately minimal. Nearly everything is black with key items belonging to Alice (a salad bowl, a notebook) in brilliant scarlet whilst the back of Mark’s intentionally visible underpants are bright blue. At one point the low tables that make up the stages are dismantled and a bridge from Tom to Alice’s side of the space is built.

Daldry was inspired by Tory MP Andrew Griffiths’ sexting scandal involving two younger women and his own personal experiences of a polyamorous relationship. But the sequences of controlling behaviour that are displayed are certainly not exclusive to non-monogamous relationships. This play is about compromise – why we choose to give control of our lives to someone or something else – and how we can escape from coercive control.

The three actors were brilliant at conveying the emotions and repression that flow through the script. Oriana Charles in particular was amazing to watch. At one point she breaks down and Tim holds her in an awkward hug whilst her face drains of all her youthful rebellion and self-belief.

Tom Daldry’s Polyamory? is part of Hastings Fringe festival and is performed by Patrick Kealey, Oliver Parnell and Oriana Charles. It runs at Pig’s Palace until 28 July at 9pm and is on for one night at the Printer’s Playhouse in Eastbourne on Friday 2 August.

Other Hastings Fringe productions include Kiss Off and Proxy – dark comedy and psychological drama. See below.


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Posted 23:15 Saturday, Jul 27, 2019 In: Performance

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