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Sex With A Stranger

by Stefan Golaszewski

Trafalgar Studios, London
1 25 February 2012

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Cast List

Grace Jaime Winstone
Adam
Russell Tovey
Ruth
Naomi Sheldon
 
Produced by Simon Pearce for The Invisible Dot
Written by Stefan Golaszewski
Director –
Phillip Breen
Designer
Holly Pigott
Lighting Designer
Emma Chapman
Sound Designer
Andrea J Cox
   

Assistant Director Josh Seymour
Stage Manager
Emma Nairne
Deputy Stage Manager
Shaun Corcoran

Script available to buy from Nick Hern Books.
  

    


 
Guardian article on Jaime Winstone and Russell Tovey by Maddy Costa.
 
Reviews


The Independent
by Paul Taylor
 
The singular comic talents of Stefan Golaszewski are mostly expended on works for television - as in Him & Her, a sitcom that applies Royle Family techniques to twentysomething slackerdom with intermittently hilarious results.
 
But he is also no mean dramatist for the stage. The Stefan Golaszewski Plays (a title that takes few risks with misattribution) elicited five-star raves from this paper and the Daily Telegraph when it arrived at the Bush two years ago. That piece was a diptych of linked monologues, performed with mesmeric skill by the author; they demonstrated his ability to sustain pace, rhythmic variety and peculiarly-angled narrative interest over the long distance. In Sex with a Stranger, premiered now at the Trafalgar Studios, Golaszewski trains his extraordinary flair on playing around with the tragicomic possibilities of a story chopped into cheekily hyper-abrupt black-out sketches that are presented in calculatedly unchronological order and set against sequences that are an agony of real-time protractedness. You can't put an ironing board on stage without invoking Look Back in Anger. Here, though, it's a case of John Osborne, eat your heart out, as we watch, in weirdly rapt and respectful silence, a young woman named Ruth perform the entire business of ironing her partner's package-creased new shirt. 
 
The shirt has just been purchased by Adam (brilliant Russell Tovey) and, by this roughly mid-point in the play, we have already seen him wearing it and indeed taking it off in the bedroom of Grace (spot-on Jaime Winstone), an airhead "in sales" that he has picked up at a disco for a one-night stand. This first half of Philip Breen's immaculately timed and acted production is largely spent in following this couple of strangers through the epic banalities of the journey to her flatshare. There are several bouts of the kind of snogging that could teach a hoover a thing or two about suction but mostly you wonder if masturbation wouldn't be preferable as he drapes her in his doe-eyed gaze and she witters empily on. Asked where exactly she lives, she says "Do you know Homebase", as though it were as distinctive as the Bridge of Sighs. Golaszewski has a devastating ear for the tiny bizarreries of this near-phatic communion, plus the uncondescending ability to keep the characters juicy. You never feel that they are being baked to death with derision, as they bark their shins in the dark against a too-low bed.
 
Then there's a weird change of gear and you see the run-up to this night. Naomi Sheldon wrings your heart and irritates you to bits as the girlfriend who, by having been too suspicious, has put herself in a weak position and can't object when Adam claims that he is going out for a mate's twenty-sixth birthday. As she helps him get ready, in a banked-down fever of foreboding, you feel that their lives have quietly horrifying DIY Neil LaBute play. A dazzling achievement.
 
 

The Daily Telegraph 
by Charles Spencer

One of the great consolations of middle age is that you don’t have to go to discos, or “clubbing” as this vile activity is now more glamorously called. I count the nights I spent at Cinderella Rockerfellas in my distant youth, trying in vain to persuade girls to dance with me, as among the loneliest and most humiliating of my life. And all the horror came flooding back watching Stefan Golaszewski’s Sex with a Stranger - though his hero, initially at any rate, seems to have got lucky.
 
Golaszewski is best known for his BBC3 sitcom Him and Her but he is also a fine writer for theatre and his monologues about first love and love in old age which he delivered himself at the Bush Theatre a couple of years ago struck me as wonderfully frank, true and tender.
 
In this new piece, featuring Russell Tovey, one of Alan Bennett’s original History Boys and the male star of Him and Her, as well as the fast-rising film actress Jaime Winstone (daughter of Ray), he focuses on a trio of characters in their twenties, and memorably captures the humiliations of lust and the painful inequality of love. 
 
In the early scenes we watch as Adam cops off with Grace after a night of dancing. There’s a lot of snogging and awkward conversation as they make their slow way back to her place on the night bus, but the encounter proves far from blissful, and the emptiness of their lives is painfully caught.
 
But in later scenes we discover that Adam has been playing away. He has a live-in girlfriend, Ruth, who we see lovingly ironing his shirt in preparation for the night out with his mates which ends with his infidelity.
 
It’s a moment that is clearly a homage to Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, but also extraordinarily touching in its own right. Golaszewski’s movingly captures the moment when shared affection decays into suspicion, frustration, dishonesty and grief.
 
Tovey powerfully captures the duplicity and unease of the philandering Adam, Jaime Winstone poignantly suggests the vulnerability and anxiety that underlie Grace’s brassy Essex Girl persona, and Naomi Sheldon pierces the heart as the woman left alone at home who comes to learn that her love is unreturned.
 
The play is artistically subtle, with its clever, non-linear time scheme, and the director Philip Breen and his outstanding cast skilfully lay bare the deeper feelings that underlie the apparently banal surface of the dialogue. There is a sense of ice at this play’s heart, and one leaves it with a shiver.
 
 

London Evening Standard 
by Henry Hitchings
 
Russell Tovey has won an army of fans as the werewolf George in Being Human and Jaime Winstone is a sparky performer who's made a strong impression in the TV zombie drama Dead Set and films such as Kidulthood. In this new play from Stefan Golaszewski, best-known for his BBC3 sitcom Him & Her (which stars Tovey), they combine arrestingly.
 
Tovey and Winstone are Adam and Grace, who meet in a club. Adam invites her outside, cheesily saying he's got something he wants to show her, and they make their way back to Grace's for what threatens to be an awkward one-night stand.
 
Adam trots out relentlessly banal conversation. Grace laughs too much and rummages through her handbag. We see them snogging in the street and plotting a fumble in the back of a cab. There is a painful familiarity in their meandering chat and moments of ineptitude. Even when they cut loose, helped along by tequila shots, there's a mix of excitement and toe-curling ungainliness.
 
Adam kisses Grace as if he's trying to eat an apple off the branch. Grace struggles with her outfit, and later, because she doesn't like being seen in her underwear, insists on making out with the lights off.
 
All of this is amusing, but things take a nastier turn as we learn the context for Adam's night with Grace. He is stuck in a dull relationship with neurotic musician Ruth.
 
She's the sort of woman who enjoys discussing bookshelves and explodes when someone joins the wrong queue at the supermarket. A night away from her, partying with friends, is an escape route for Adam.
 
Tovey does a nice job of conveying both Adam's geniality and the frustration that makes him stray.
 
He's especially powerful in a scene where he berates Ruth for being paranoid about his eyeing up other women. As Grace, Winstone is adept at suggesting the nuances of embarrassment; her timing is spot-on. And Naomi Sheldon perfectly evokes Ruth's vulnerability.
 
There's a risk that a piece so concerned with the ordinary could lapse into flatness. But Golaszewski's writing has teeth; although the material is slight, it's eerily well observed and shrewdly woven together.
 
Phillip Breen's intimate production is absorbing and the committed performances make this a satisfying, unsettling experience.
 
 

What's On Stage
by Michael Coveny
 
Not exactly what it says on the tin, Stefan Golaszewski’s skilfully constructed, painful-to-watch but very funny three-hander in the smaller of the Trafalgar Studios is a story of double-talk, a boys’ night out and a marriage turning slightly stale.
 
Working backwards from a night on the tiles where, after some serious clubbing, Russell Tovey’s married Adam is heading for instant sex in the park, and her flat, with Jaime Winstone’s amazing Grace (well, she lives five minutes from Homebase), the play unpicks the story behind Adam’s newly ironed shirt.
 
Meanwhile, Grace is “doing” her face and hair to hit the scene. The spare, minimal writing makes Harold Pinter look like Ronald Firbank. Some scenes are ten seconds long. Tentative chat-up is contrasted, like bright pins, with the wary notes of deceit as Adam wangles his night out from Naomi Sheldon’s doe-eyed, devoted Ruth. Ruth plays violin in an orchestra (one scene shows Adam slumped at the concert, the night after his outing). Even more surprisingly, we suddenly see Grace making a thank-you speech at her own wedding: is she married, too, and to the unseen “friend” she flat-shares with?
 
We are somewhere in Essex, near darkest Leytonstone. Adam is in sales, with ambitions in social media, Grace in recruitment. Adam was at college with Ruth, and there’s a sense in which he’s returning to his atavistic roots with Grace.
 
Tovey conveys, with the slightest of looks and gestures, an admiration for Grace’s unaffected bone-headedness, mixed with raw sex appeal, a refreshing change, perhaps, from Ruth’s eager niceness on a date in Pizza Express, and around the house, which she keeps very tidy.
 
Golaszewski, who writes BBC3’s Him & Her, made waves two or three years ago with his white-suited solo performances at the Traverse and the Bush. He’s a talent on the move, and his director Philip Breen has served up this play with real flair and deftness.
 
The acting of all three performers is unbeatable, perfectly pitched and nuanced in the tiny space, and while Tovey and Winstone are brilliant at falling guiltily and nervously into their tryst, Sheldon’s projection of misplaced trust and innate goodness becomes almost heart-breaking as she settles down on the sofa, betrayed and bookish.
 
 
The Observer 
by Tom Lamont
 
A Saturday-night pull is the starting point for Stefan Golaszewski's new play, bleakly funny business when presented as forensically as this: a Lynx Africa-scented meeting in a nightclub pre-empting a pantomime grope by the fire exit, then a late-night journey home with only the interior fittings of an N73 bus to fuel conversation.
 
Russell Tovey and Jaime Winstone play Adam and Grace, our lacklustre couple. Adam tries hard to keep a flicker of eroticism in the night's tryst while Grace giggles and babbles, their progress towards the bedroom surviving a mini-drama over a lost Oyster card, a kebab, later an extended break for teeth brushing and a disagreement over sexy lighting. It starts to feel like an over-extended sketch about the ritual of one-night stands when the story suddenly broadens into something knottier, more sinister. Is that really a genial vacancy in Adam's manner or a deeper misanthropy? He has a long-term girlfriend, Ruth (Naomi Sheldon), and through flashback we hop around moments in their relationship – the early-date discovery that they both like Pizza Express olives launching a drab but genuine affection, all but vanished by the time they're sharing a flat and Ruth is cautiously plotting to wall-bracket their telly while Adam plans a Saturday night out on his own.
 
There's a glimpse of a living-room fight, verging on proper violence, that's shocking and horrible. It's the only time the underlying menace of this engaging play is allowed into plain view.
 
 

The Huffington Post 
by Chris Cox

Sex With A Stranger is the third play from writer Stefan Golaszewski. His previous two shows were one man pieces looking at love and relationships, the first of which, Stefan Golaszewski Speaks About A Girl He Once Loved, launched him sensationally onto the scene. It showed he had an incredible way with words, finding the funny and heartbreaking and captivating an audience. The good news is this, three-hander play, shows that he hasn't lost his touch.
 
Russell Tovey plays Adam, who we follow through the non-linear narrative of the play. We meet him as he waits for a night bus home with Grace (Jamie Winstone) after having pulled her in a club, and clearly with one thing on his mind, however it's not long till we realise he has Ruth (Naomi Sheldon) waiting at home for her boyfriend to return.
 
Tovey is in fine form, bringing a truth to the role. He is a fine comic actor, rasing laughs from the smallest of shifts in facial expression, yet it is in the characters darker moments where he shines. Winstone is every inch the outgoing yet shy and damanged Essex girl, and Sheldon offers a truly sympathtic insight to the girlfriend Adam has found himself with.
 
Director Philip Breen, like the writer, are masters of saying so much, whilst using so little. Quick fire scenes, simple staging and well timed pacing make sure that the ordinary isn't overly theatrical and the performances match. They are subtle, nuanced and devastatingly intimate as you find yourself forced into their lives. Laughter flows thick and fast and leaving you invited to make your own interpretations and moral judgements on the characters.
 
Sex With A Stranger wondrously captures the everyday, from the over-use of the word nice to the banality of conversations. Golaszewski's has an ear for dialogue, creating speech patterns we all recognise and juicy characters which make for a witty, modern and at times, painfully truthful play.
 
 

Spoonfed 
by Catherine Love
 
The bold title of Stefan Golaszewski’s new play, while undoubtedly attention grabbing, is slightly misleading. Although this comedy’s short, punchy scenes dance around many of the moments leading up to, informing and following the carnal act of its title, the narrative’s climax (pun intended) is never quite reached. 
 
The central one night stand is between Grace, played with pitch-perfect, endearing awkwardness by Jaime Winstone, and Russell Tovey’s equally endearing but romantically clueless Adam. They meet in a nightclub, an encounter followed by all the usual inexpert groping, interminable late night travel and mandatory kebabs that characterise such liaisons. It is the longest, most toe-curlingly awkward display of foreplay imaginable. As a background to this fumbling, fleeting affair, Adam has left at home his long-term girlfriend Ruth, a piercingly poignant bundle of insecurities in the hands of Naomi Sheldon.
 
With the same shrewd observation deployed in offbeat comedy Him and Her, writer Golaszewski and director Phillip Breen have zeroed in on an unflinching, almost grubby realism. Dialogue revolves around such humdrum topics as Homebase and salad, while the subtlest facial movement from any one of the unfailingly excellent cast conveys a clutch of instantly recognisable thoughts. In the cosy space of Studio 2 such minutiae achieves maximum effect, although the minimalist, close-up focus on the mundane does threaten to dent the play with its own slightness.
 
The scenes between Adam and his two different partners are chopped up and intersected; fractured moments from flawed relationships that have been roughly thrown about and then separately, delicately held up to the light. Under Emma Chapman’s bright, often stark lighting, these glimpses into the lives of Adam, Grace and Ruth can feel like snapshots, brief bulb-flash illuminations that fade away as quickly as they were captured. The piece resists togetherness and resolution, but its lack of cohesion is symbolically fitting for a play that distils the lack of connection between individuals.
 
Looked at through the lens of these diced, jagged scenes, Sex with a Stranger reads as a jarring oxymoron: an act of the greatest intimacy juxtaposed with the most fleeting of human connections. But who out of Grace and Ruth is the greater stranger to Adam? While many aspects of these two contrasting relationships differ dramatically, the most striking moments in both are the awkward, strained silences that garner pained laughs of recognition.
 
Ultimately, what elevates this from the realm of mere observational humour is its unsettling grain of grim truth. Under the veil of comedy, Golaszewski is dishing up for the audience’s guilty consumption our own inability to communicate and connect. Romance may not quite be dead, but the signs of life are hard to find.
 
 

The Londonist 
by Zoe Craig
 
If you’re currently feeling gloomy, staring down at a date-free Valentine’s Day, we reckon there are worse options than booking to see Sex With A Stranger at the Trafalgar Studios this month.
 
Despite its somewhat crass title (“The theatre? Nice. What are you going to see?”… “Err…”), Sex With A Stranger holds an incredibly sharp mirror up to the relationships of twenty-somethings. While it’s certainly not the first play to dwell on these themes, SWAS captures something unique in its unsettling quality, and in the quiet pathos of its female victim. See this, and you might feel pleased you’re single.
 
Stefan Golaszewski’s non-linear story opens at a bus stop; Adam’s got lucky, persuading Grace to leave a club with him, and the pair are headed bedwards, via the kabab shop. Best-known for BBC3′s Him & Her, Golaszewski’s dialogue is a delight. Almost every line has been freshly picked from the box marked “mundane”, dusted with a sprinkling of fatuous, and, in the mouths of Russell Tovey and Jaime Winstone, made to sound even more inane. Initially, it’s hilarious. But you can’t help thinking: if this is “getting lucky”, it kinda sucks.
 
Running at just 90 minutes, SWAS zips along: some scenes are over in less than 30 seconds, creating snapshots of a hazily remembered night out perfectly.
 
So we rewind jerkily through the rest of Adam’s day. After the repetitive mirthless giggling and the strained dialogue of the one night stand, it’s almost a relief to watch a wordless scene: a second girl, simply ironing a shirt. But the tension in the Trafalgar Studios’ tiny second space builds with each silent, resentful(?) movement — it’s clearly the shirt Adam’s wearing later that evening. And so the life Adam’s left to go clubbing with his mates unfolds. And it’s one of the most phenomenally stale relationships we’ve ever seen played out on stage.
 
All three of the cast are superb, enriching what might sound like a flimsy plot and sparse dialogue with oodles of tell-tale glances, and pin-point accurate mannerisms. And while SWAS is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, the overwhelming sadness underpinning the final betrayal is incredibly intense. Spilling out onto the street afterwards, we had to admit: Sex With A Stranger is incredibly cathartic. (No sniggering at the back – Ed.) Single, dating, attached, married; at least our lives aren’t that bad.
 
Naomi Sheldon’s Ruth is an excruciating portrayal of an unhappy girlfriend. Despite occasional sly references to weddings and marriage, she’s clearly stopped trusting (and maybe even liking) her idiot boyfriend. Sheldon’s vulnerability and unease are breathtaking. And still Golaszewski’s script is unrelentingly funny: a moment of quiet supermarket rage (“It clearly says six items. Six! Items!”) expressing all the anger Ruth feels about her day/bloke/life in one static, hushed outburst.
 
 

Culture Wars 
by Miriam Gillinson
 
Here's a shocker – a new play, that isn't trying to shock! Even better still, Stefan Golaszewski's Sex with a Stranger is about a trio of twentysomethings, who – for once – aren't royally screwed up. They're not even on drugs! And, in a final shock revelation, this slow-building comedy features two TV actors, Jaime Winstone and Russell Tovey, who seem completely at home in the theatre.
 
Like the play itself, Winstone and Tovey are understated and all the more powerful for it. Tovey plays Adam – a man stuck in a depressingly dull relationship, who hooks up with Grace (Jaime Winstone) on a rare night out. Theirs is not exactly a meeting of minds. They chat about Homebase. A lot. It's not even a meeting of lips; when they kiss, it's as if Tovey is trying to suck a massive bottle of milk, just out of reach. It isn't exactly sexy but, in its slobbery fervour, it is realistic.
 
These absurdly amusing kisses set the the tone for a play that might explore romance but is resolutely unromantic. Director Philip Breen does a great job of keeping the 'romantic' encounters messy and gloss-free. Throughout much of their fumbling flirtations, Tovey and Winstone's characters look like they long to be elsewhere. Tovey's eyes dart about anxiously, constantly searching for something or someone else. Winstone's screeching laughter is far from a thing of a joy. Even when the two kiss, it feels like they're grappling about for a connection they cannot find.
 
These spit drenched and awkward encounters are not all that different from the scenes between Adam and his girlfriend, Ruth. The only difference is that the conversations between Adam and Ruth do not tingle with the promise of sex. They barely even offer the hope of a hug. Naomi Sheldon, as grey and goggle-eyed girlfriend Ruth, looks like Bambi caught in the headlights. One wishes someone would put her out of her misery. The same goes for Adam, who visibly pales in the company of his sensible but spark-free girlfriend.
 
It all sounds a bit depressing but Golaszewski, whose TV work has obviously taught him a lot about tight structuring, handles the heavy stuff lightly. The doubt and depression build slowly, in the gaps between the clever punchlines. In fact, the sadder moments are often trapped inside the jokes themselves. During an early date, Ruth breathlessly declares her excitement at their similar tastes; 'You like olives, that's good!' It's a slight line but it still captures the gulf between these two people, as Ruth quietly plans for a future we now know has been obliterated for good.
 
 

A Younger Theatre 
by Ryan Ahem

Sex With a Stranger revels in awkwardness. This new play by Stefan Golaszewski, the creator of BBC3′s Him and Her, is comedic yet heart-wrenching.
 
Adam (Russell Tovey) has left his girlfriend Ruth (Naomi Sheldon) at home to celebrate a friend’s birthday. That evening he picks up Grace (Jaime Winstone) and ends up getting the night bus back to hers. Told in a rather backwards/non-linear fashion, this story is sure to keep you wondering where it is going next. 
 
There is a confidence with the language of the script and characters that immediately puts the audience at ease. Tovey shows great ability to vary the character of Adam throughout the play, and displays strong comic timing. Winstone creates the role of Grace effortlessly. However, the surprise performance of the evening was Naomi Sheldon. Although appearing less relaxed in her first scene, she very quickly took control of the audience and makes the character’s stinging pain ring very true.
 
Phillip Breen’s direction is beautifully suited to this realistic piece and is executed with the use of very little scenery. Breen’s simple and honest approach pushes the audience further in empathising with the already relatable characters. Andrea J Cox’s soundscapes are also an important touch and place the locations of each scene perfectly.
 
Golaszewski’s script utilises some very clever ideas, especially when ‘fast forwarding’ sections of scenes, and finds truthful comedy in the general awkwardness that people subject themselves to in different social situations. With moments of pure voyeurism (such as when Ruth irons Adam’s shirt or when Grace is getting ready) the world of the characters is very much brought to life by Golaszewski’s ability to understand people.
 
A strong piece from a young writer and a brilliant team, Sex With a Stranger shocks, makes you laugh, makes you hurt, but most of all it makes you feel and resonate with at least one character (if not all three). Golasvewski’s gift is not only in his ability to understand people but to portray them so easily as well.
 
 

Gaydar Radio 
by Joseph Cattell

Best known for his lo-fi sitcom, Him & Her, writer Stefan Golaszewski has reunited with the Him in question, Russell Tovey, for Sex With a Stranger, an understated and unconventional look at the most conventional of things: a relationship staggering towards its death.
 
The relationship in question belongs to a straight couple in their 20s, with gay pin-up Tovey playing Adam and Naomi Sheldon as his bookish girlfriend, Ruth. (Anyone searching for gay characters in this show will be disappointed, but be reassured that a topless Tovey should be enough to turn you topsy-turvy).
 
The action begins at the end, with Adam heading home after a night’s clubbing. The trouble is that he’s left Ruth at home for the night and has picked up the altogether less intellectual, but much sexier, Grace (Jaime Winstone). After succumbing to a tidal wave of lust in the club, we join the pair waiting for the N73 bus, suddenly confronted with an awkward journey home and rumbling stomachs.
 
Golaszewski’s scenes are short and sharp, and his dialogue is beautifully observed in its everyday tedium. But beneath the hilarious discussions about kebab meat and taxis making you feel famous, his characters wrestle with insecurity. In particular the show’s later scenes, which depict a pre-infidelity Adam preparing to go out, with even simple enquiries, like Ruth’s "Who are you texting?", loaded with angst masquerading as casual interest.
 
The whole evening brims with impeccably performed naturalistic touches like this, whether it’s a conversation that’s suddenly halted thanks to a police siren or Grace’s panicked rummaging through her handbag for her Oyster Card.
 
But it’s the show’s silences that are most powerful. Adam’s blank-faced boredom as he listens to Ruth playing in a classical concert, or the cavernous silence that follows Ruth’s attention-seeking moan, "I could do with shedding a few pounds myself" manage to be capture all the loneliness of being in a relationship that’s lost its sparkle.
 
The show’s barely there set tests each actors’ skill and all three excel. Tovey plays the slobbering sex-starved straight man to perfection, while Winstone is both spunky and vulnerable as the nervous party girl.
 
But Naomi Sheldon provides the night’s finest performance as Ruth – a woman who has fallen in love with a man who shares none of her passions and barely hides a merciless contempt for her insecurities. With impressive naturalism, she is simultaneously needy, frightened, loving and depressingly naive, not least when she says to Adam, "Bet you wish you could stay in and watch Mad Men." Despite their relationship, Ruth and Adam could easily be strangers the title speaks of.
For many, the thought of a comedy drama about 20-somethings shagging each other might sound as original as the missionary position, but this talented cast perform Golaszewski’s razor-sharp dialogue to perfection, making Sex With a Stranger is a one night stand you won’t regret.
 
 

TNT Magazine 
by Louise Kingsley
 
Adam seems like a decent enough chap when he picks up Grace after a night’s clubbing. She seems up for it – he certainly is – and in a series of sharp, abruptly blacked-out non-linear scenes they make the long journey back to her flat on the night bus – stopping off on the way for a grope in the park and a kebab. They’ve got little in common, even less to say to each other. It’s a meeting with only one purpose, but blonde, brassy, micro-skirted Grace grows progressively more insecure the closer they get to her bedroom.
 
Russell Tovey’s Adam, (currently in sales but with web site aspirations) knows exactly what he’s after – and when we then see his live-in partner Ruth ironing his shirt and preparing his supper before he heads out “with the lads” it becomes clear just how calculated his behaviour is.
 
Stefan Golaszewski’s deft three-hander paints an increasingly cynical picture of male behaviour, capturing the vulnerability and hurt of both Jaime Winstone’s Grace (who has unrevealed secrets of her own) and, especially, Naomi Sheldon’s sad, suspicious Ruth, kind, compliant and emotionally powerless to avert an act of betrayal in Phillip Breen’s austere, effective production.
 
 

The Gay Stage 
by Ben Weatherill
 
A one night stand is the basis of this surprisingly atmospheric piece of new writing by Him and Her writer Stefan Golaszewski, who reunites with Russell Tovey to create an intelligent and poignant three hander about fraying, failed relationships.
 
We kick off with Adam (Tovey) and Grace (Winstone) grinding against the wall in alley way, causing many a flashback in the audience. From then on we are treated to some of the finest, sharp dialogue from a male dramatist I have seen in a long time-smartly capturing the dwindling eroticism and painful emptiness of both their lives through a Saturday night pull featuring an “amazing” kebab, the N73 bus and an argument over “mood lighting".
 
The real stand out moments however, come from Naomi Sheldon as Ruth – long term girlfriend of Adam whos performance evokes empathy, instinctively knowing that Adam's night out with the lads is going to lead to her heart being broken.
 
The image of Ruth ironing Adam's shirt is reminiscent of and is a clear homage to Osborne's Look Back in Anger, here Golaszewski places Sheldon as Osborne's Alison – who captures and holds the audience as a woman stuck at home wondering how to mount the television on the wall, as she realises her love for her partner is no longer reciprocated. Stunning.
 
This is truly an engaging (not least because of Tovey in his underwear on several occasions) 80 minute romp. Although not an entirely original piece, the sex and love lives of twenty-somethings is all too often explored, the short, punchy vignettes of dramatic action offer a structure that arrests the audience and illustrates the caustic relationship from the outset. This, combined with the clean and crisp dialogue, creates an engaging and evolving atmosphere.
 
A definite must see.
 
 



   

Jaime Winstone. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Russell Tovey, Jaime Winstone. Photo © Pete Le May
 

 Jaime Winstone, Russell Tovey. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Jaime Winstone. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Russell Tovey, Jaime Winstone. Photo  © Pete Le May
 

 Jaime Winstone, Russell Tovey. Photo  © Pete Le May
 

 Jaime Winstone, Russell Tovey. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Russell Tovey, Jaime Winstone. Photo © Pete Le May
 

 Jaime Winstone, Russell Tovey. Photo © Pete Le May
 

 Jaime Winstone, Russell Tovey. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Russell Tovey. Photo © Pete Le May
 

 Naomi Sheldon. Photo © Pete Le May
 

 Jaime Winstone, Russell Tovey. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Russell Tovey. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Russell Tovey. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Russell Tovey, Naomi Sheldon. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Russell Tovey, Naomi Sheldon. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Russell Tovey, Naomi Sheldon. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Russell Tovey, Naomi Sheldon. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Naomi Sheldon. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Naomi Sheldon, Russell Tovey. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Naomi Sheldon, Russell Tovey. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Russell Tovey, Naomi Sheldon. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Russell Tovey, Naomi Sheldon. Photo © Pete Le May
 

 Jaime Winstone. Photo © Pete Le May
 

Naomi Sheldon. Photo © Pete Le May
  
 


 
 
   
 
Flyer design by Julia.
 
 


 
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