Review: Open, VAULT Festival

Christopher Adams and Timothy Allsop’s Open at the VAULT Festival is exactly the kind of fresh, forward-thinking queer theatremaking we need more of

“Do I want my first kiss to be on the District Line?”

A real sense of genuine feeling ripples all the way through Open. Husbands in real life, co-stars on this stage, Christopher Adams and Timothy Allsop’s play explores their nine year relationship and the ways in which it has evolved from meeting on Guardian Soulmates through civil partnership to marriage, accompanied by their decision to be open to sleeping with other men.

Statistics are tossed out – apparently 40% of gay couples are in open relationships – but what makes Open work is the specificity of the story being told here. This is no advertorial for all gay men to sleep around, but rather Chris and Tim’s deeply personal history being laid out, a bracingly frank investigation into the reasons for their choices and exactly how it made them feel.

So it is admissions like being able to be sexually adventurous in a different way with others and how small jealousies still chip away at them that ring true, even with a web of rules to try and define how far they’re willing to go. And it is refreshing to see such a subject treated without any of the lurid sensationalism that plagues too many a gay play (they’ve even got their shirts on in the poster image!).

Will Maynard’s production is full of innovative ideas too. A smidge of audience participation enhances the openness of the storytelling, recorded voices add another texture, and the use of paper puppetry is a visual triumph as it stands in for the many bodies inbetween the two men. Following on from Adams’ excellent Tumulus last year, this is exactly the kind of fresh, forward-thinking queer theatremaking we need more of. 

Running time: 1 hour (without interval)
Photos: Matthew Carnazza
Open is booking at the VAULT Festival until 27th January

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