“We need to talk about this”
As interesting as Found111 is as a pop-up venue, and an intriguingly programmed one too, attracting a strong calibre of actor thus far, it remains extremely problematic to me that a new venue – the issue of whether London is lacking in theatres aside – can be opened without any access to wheelchair users, as there’s no way to get to the auditorium without climbing 71 steps. For me, accessibility isn’t something you get to pick and choose and so no matter how atmospheric this old Central St Martins building may be, just shrugging that it is “regrettably inaccessible” feels an inadequate response.
It’s more of a shame given that the latest production is arguably the best of the three that Emily Dobbs Productions has mounted here – Owen McCafferty’s Unfaithful blisters its way through the world of relationships with his unmistakable gift for excruciatingly sharp dialogue and the messy way in which we so often end up treating the ones we love. Middle-aged Tom and Joan have hit something of a rut, their uni-going daughter isn’t talking to them and they’re not talking to each other. And the substantially younger Peter and Tara are in the midst of their own crisis, suffering their own communication difficulties.
McCafferty smashes the foursome together – Tara comes onto Tom in a Dublin bar and he later spitefully tells Joan all the details of their sexual shenanigans, she then seeks revenge by booking an male escort for the night, who just happens to be Peter. Contrivances aside, Unfaithful turns into a rather smart study of marriage, of partnership, of what it means to committing to being with someone in this day and age. Adam Penford’s production wisely dispenses with any showiness and focuses instead on the beating, and bruised, hearts that underpin the writing.
Harry Potter star-come-good Matthew Lewis and Ruta Gedmintas give the younger couple real heart as they deal with the realities of one of them being a sex worker and what shape their modern relationship could or should take. But it is Niamh Cusack and Sean Campion who take the acting honours (the play is heavily weighted towards them, something of a structural weakness) – their rueful admissions of their loneliness – both to others and then to themselves – is powerfully touching and rooted in a subtle but real emotional truth as they each search for what the future might hold. It would be good if it was open to all.