This short, modern piece of American theatre centres on the social and sex lives of four characters: Bernie (Matthew Holdgate), Dan (Daniel Stokeley), Deborah (Winnie Yu) and Joan (Laine Harper). We see the self-confident, somewhat arrogant Bernie, trying to wow Dan with tales of unseen lovers and advise him, while it is the quieter, simpler Dan who has more success in his relationships. Defensive, unsure Deborah allows herself to be drawn away from the comfortable life with her flatmate Joan into this relationship, but soon returns after things start going wrong. Joan herself is a bitter, sarcastic, hardened woman who has no time for relationships.
Mamet strikes an superb balance between sharp, observational comedy and the somewhat sinister underlying causes of the ?Sexual Perversity? we see ? from Bernie?s molestation as a child, to Dan?s fooling around with other boys when he was younger. The jokes are somewhat sick, the language is fairly foul, but all appropriate to the piece.
Director, Jen Metcalf, has made the brave decision to bring the piece from 1970s Chicago to modern day London and, while there is no reason that the piece should be any less relevant, it isn?t entirely satisfactory. The accents vary from American to Cockney with no real justification, making it difficult to place the action and, more seriously, the rhythmic flow of Mamet? script is almost entirely lost when it is translated into English dialects. As with much modern theatre, the dialogue is very much conversational, and requires the correct rhythm, timing, intonation and accent to work at its best.
Having said that, Matthew Holdgate gave a convincing performance as Bernie and his worked well in the modern day London setting. Laine Harper was also superb as Joan. Her natural American accent, subtle and well-observed emotions, and comic timing made her a pleasure to watch on stage. Particularly notable was her scene in the playground, explaining to young children why it was wrong to play doctors and nurses ? excellent!
The show has a number of very funny moments and audience members will struggle to stop themselves laughing out loud at numerous inappropriate or twisted jokes. My personal favourite involved a female, her dog, some dog food and? well, I?ll leave the rest to your imagination.
The staging of the production deserves credit. This is the second show in the concert hall this term to be staged in the round - stage in the middle, audience round the sides. The show works extremely well like this and the set, seating and lighting design were all superbly executed by the Dramsoc team. With the exception of one or two unnecessarily slow scene changes, I could not fault this aspect of the production.
All in all, a very entertaining 80 minute show? students should love its sense of humour.