“I wouldn’t know what to do in a darkroom”
Budding (and broke) photographer James and his relationship dramas lie at the heart of George Johnston’s new play Snapshot. His barely-out banker boyfriend Daniel pays the lion’s share of the bills but has problems sharing his feelings, his new benefactor Frank has as many designs on being a sugar daddy as a genuine supporter, and old college friend and aspiring actor Olivia can’t keep away either.
Structurally, there’s an interesting idea in the play as short scene follows short scene – flashing like the titular snapshots – and providing a non-linear jigsaw to piece together. But James McAndrew’s production loses it in the transitions, more interlude-like than immediate and highlighting the fragmented fragility of the storytelling.
And whilst Johnston has an acute idea of topical issues, he struggles to convert them into meaningful dialogue that sounds like genuine conversation. So the likes of the Jewish population of Stamford Hill and the unrealistic expectations porn gives men about women’s bodies are crowbarred awkwardly into the chat, pronounced as statements with no real attempt to dig into what they mean for these characters.
There’s more success in depicting the realities of battling to get a foothold in London without financial security. The part-time jobs to suffer, the ingratiating emails to send, the thankless unpaid internships, the daily grind getting you down and depressed, here James’ struggle feels real (even if his penury doesn’t seem to have stopped him from getting to the gym on a regular basis!).
But as the sexual dynamics of this quartet shift again and again, they rarely convince, dependent on naïveté or improbable twists, rather than any insightful take on modern sexuality. And the reliance on the melodramatic for the ending feels forced, no matter Brian Martin’s committed performance as James and Joey Akubeze’s bruised fragility as Daniel.