Sunday, 5 April 2015

Sexual Perversity in Chicago @ Salford Arts Theatre, 26.03.15

Before we even had a chance to really contemplate the success of their Manchester Rep Season (a programme of four plays in four short weeks), 1956 Theatre Company are back with another bounty for theatre guzzlers to gourmandize. Not long on the ‘scene’, the company debut saw them bring the film classic Dead on Arrival to the stage in 2013, several months later they sold out a performance of Great Expectations, shortly followed by the aforementioned Rep season. All this leads us to the play in question; still as ambitious as ever, 1956 have gone and taken on the challenge of a David Mamet play and have done so with success.

Sexual Perversity in Chicago is a heavily worded and strongly contextual piece, which can be daunting, even to the very best of actors. Set in 1976 Chicago, the play examines the sex lives of two men and two women; the main focus being Danny (Daniel Bradford) and Deborah (Amy-Jane Ollies). The two meet and they quickly establish a relationship from sexual attraction and, just as quickly, they move in together. As the play progresses their relationship is thwarted by an inability to talk with each other seriously. This is amplified by the opinions and self-interest of their friends: Bernie (Lee Lomas), Danny’s misogynic boss; and Joan (Hannah Ellis Ryan), Deborah’s sharp tongued room-mate.

Ollies and Bradford have clearly taken time to understand their roles, and truly take the character’s journey. In doing so they effortlessly exude an innocence and optimism which later festers in frustration and cynicism. The two managed to accomplish these traits while maintaining the chemistry required of a Mamet play.

In contrast to our two characters in charge of portraying the plays humanity (a better word for emotion) we have Joan and Bernie, the keys drivers of Mamet’s elaborate and daunting dialogue. Ryan gives an astounding performance as Joan, as she has impeccable control of her dialogue, which a less experienced actor could fall prey to. Lomas, is a true show stealer – his portrayal of Bernie is beautifully well rounded, again breezing through the fast paced dialogue with complete ownership.

The production has again reminded us that this company are fearless, a winning trait in this industry. Their ambitious decisions and eagerness to prove their company aim that “there is no such thing as can’t be done”, are two of the many reasons 1956 are quickly becoming one of my favourite theatre companies. Watch this space!

Words: Kate Morris

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