Review: Unrelated, Jermyn Street Theatre

“You think I can trust women?”

After three weeks on holiday, my theatregoing restarted with a gentle introduction with Unrelated, presented as part of the Summer Shorts Season at the Jermyn Street Theatre, where material is performed and tried out with a view to developing shows for potential full runs. Unrelated is a four-hander by Dan Horrigan, an excoriating attack on middle class attitudes and prejudices and the dangers inherent in personal desires, whether in is stifling them to please others or pursuing them with wild abandon.

The story is told through two pairings, Martin arrives at a classy prostitute’s Jean’s place with a view to becoming one of her regulars but it soon emerges that all is not as it seems and separately, his wife Annie is engaged in a conversation with journalist Rachel as she comes to terms with the actions of her husband: the action flits between the two developing relationships throughout as we come ever closer to the truth about what has happened and who these people really are.

Despite the short running time (60 minutes), 3 of the 4 characters are very well-drawn and engaging. Romilly Turner’s game-playing, confident, high-class prostitute is nicely full of wry observations and a dry humour and is well-matched by Tim Daish’s nervy, slightly gangly Martin, seemingly unsure of what he wants. The way in which this relationship percolates and shifts around was always interesting and kept us on our toes.

As the delusional wife Annie, Augustina Seymour gave probably the best performance of the night, gifted by the most fully realised character and the funniest lines. Seymour skilfully negotiated the comic highs and the emotional lows as a conflicted wife, frustrated in her own ambitions and clinging to an ideal of her husband that no longers exists. Conversely, as journalist Rachel who is questioning Anne, Helen Bang suffered from the most under-developed role, she has little to do but ask questions and her one solo moment is unexplored.

Unrelated shows a lot of promise, some daringly biting wit and an interesting look at the damaging effects of sexual obsession. It needs a little work, the journalist needs to be better integrated into the action and I’d be tempted to leave the actors on stage throughout, the sudden shift to people leaving and re-entering towards the end felt a little jarring, but otherwise, this does feel like a show to keep your eye out for in the future.

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