“Roughly 15% of people report to have had a threesome”
There’s something rather refreshing about Mark Cantan’s Jezebel, newly opened in the attic room/oven of the Soho Theatre upstairs, in its uncomplicated nature. There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking in its format or earth-shattering in its content but rather, there’s a finely balanced comedy with a sparkling modern take on its farcical shenanigans and which, pleasingly, feels no need to try and mine elements of social relevance or emotional depth in search of ‘significance’. Sometimes a play can just be fun and not have mean anything more than that.
So it’s something of a sex farce which slides into a comedy of errors. Both in their early 30s, Alan and Robin are both coming off a series of unsuccessful relationship so when they get set up and the chemistry between them is palpable (and hilariously double-entendre-ridden), it seems their luck may have finally changed. But eight months in, that initial flame has fizzled a little and so they turn sexual adventuring to spice things up, working their way through allsorts until settling on a threesome, the kookily, hapless-in-love Jezebel being their third.
It is tempting to see something of the sitcom in Cantan’s structure – the three characters prowl about Ciarán O’Melia’s utilitarian set and when not acting in the scene, can be found delivering mockumentary-style interludes à la Modern Family – and that’s no bad thing. Lynne Parker’s production (from José Miguel Jiménez’s original direction) maintains a wonderfully sardonic tone, beautifully essayed by Peter Daly and Margaret McAuliffe as the would-be kinky couple and Valerie O’Connor’s brilliant artist who just can’t catch a break when it comes to men.
Things become a little more traditional once the big twist has been delivered and plays out over the increasingly frenetic climax but it is hard not to get swept up in its warm embrace of madcap antics. I particularly loved Alan’s predilection for using his statistician’s brain to work out the probability of any given situation (funnier than it sounds) and at just 80 minutes straight through, there’s never any danger of the play outstaying its welcome. Genuinely good fun.