Review: Foreplay, Theatre Royal Stratford East
Foreplay, Theatre Royal Stratford East
IN A NUTSHELL
Characters are supposedly linked by their passionate need to fulfill their sexual desires in this play by Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom, writes Miriam Gillinson
Foreplay is a series of sketches, which supposedly look at 10 disparate characters and the same sexual urges that link them together.
In reality it is a vague excuse for the actors to get it on, on-stage.
But there are only so many anal sex soliloquies a girl can take and as the "shocking" sex scenes turned from raunchy to plain dull, I found myself wishing the writer would just skip the foreplay and get it over with.
Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom received rave reviews for his previous play Township Stories, which was lauded a frank and frantic look at life in South Africa.
But there isn't any life here. There isn't even any Africa.
Save for a few scattered posters and the occasional line in local dialect this play is devoid of context. The fact we cannot place these already pallid seduction scenes drains them of all colour, immediacy and life.
The actors give it their all but it isn't enough. Mandla Gaduka performs well, but only by laying the comedy on thick and playing it for laughs.
Any glimmer of subtlety the actors do find is stamped out by some heavy-handed and naive direction from writer/director Grootboom.
He hasn't served his play well here. Every textbook trick is pulled from the hat: the lights pulse red whenever love is mentioned, they dim lower still when the chat gets heavy and heavy piano chords strike when things get ugly.
Grotboom even chucks a soundtrack from Romeo and Juliet in case we've missed the point.
No chance of that in this pantomime of love at Theatre Royal Stratford East, which is (thankfully), behind me now.