Review: A Partnership, Theatre503

Rory Thomas-Howes’ two-hander A Partnership takes an incisive look at modern gay relationships at the Theatre503

“I don’t know why I thought tonight would be any different”

Playing out over an hour of real time, Rory Thomas-Howes’ two-hander A Partnership takes an incisive look at modern gay relationships and asks big questions about what they could and should like, now that so many battles over equality have been won. Now that the gays can have a ‘normal’ life, what might that look like?

For Zach, it means breakfast islands, posh toastie makers and a Nutribullet. For Ally, it means being able to hold his boyfriend’s hand in the pub on a work do, maybe even give him a kiss. And as the pair of them return to their new flat to wait out the hour before Ally’s 30th birthday starts, the faultlines in their five-year relationship begin to buckle.

And between the bottles of birthday gin and lines of coke, it soon becomes apparent that problems are running deep here. Thomas-Howes brings layers of sensitivity to Zach, a man buried under so much internalised homophobia that he can barely breathe, just lash out with the grandest of gestures to try and maintain the status quo.

Ben Hadfield’s Ally makes for an intriguing partner to him, far more gregarious in nature and initially the more obvious target for our sympathies. But as we dig deeper into the issues here, culpability lies all around and the focus shifts to an almost Albee-like torrent of built up resentments and hostilities that cut increasingly deep.

Director Josh Tucker keeps a firm grip on the many conversational swerves, both sides of the tragi-comic coin are fully explored here, and they do occasionally get a little dizzying. You wonder how Ally and Zach have managed to get this far but then that’s kinda the point, the extent to which we are willing to lie to ourselves in order not to rock the boat.

Running time: 55 minutes (without interval)
A Partnership is booking at the Theatre503 until 5th October

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