With the entire theatre lain with pale pink carpeting and the ceiling decorated with billowing pink sheets, the set design is kitschy and witty. Two bar stools sit at the back of the stage with individual overhead lights, and a large foam bed (or perhaps a wrestling ring) sits at the centre of the stage.
Jimmy (Jonjo O’Neill) and Jess (Sophie Russell) speak directly to the audience about the sex life (or lack thereof) interjected by monologues noted by the overhanging lights. Neilson pokes fun at the theatricality of the event, but never gives an explanation as to why this couple have decided to break their dry spell in front of an entire audience. It’s bewildering and bizarre, but what is unearthed through their discussion is resonant and at times quite moving.
Both O’Neill and Russell work very well together. They grasp the mutual love they have for each other as well as the isolating shame each of them feel. But while there’s meat in Neilson’s script to chew on, sadly the dramatic arc is indistinct and renders the performances at times repetitive.
Still, with quick humour and biting observations, The Prudes is a deceptively complex piece that gets at the heart of modern relationships. Yes, it might fall foul to gender stereotypes, but Neilson’s satire is constantly questioning those stereotypes in an effort to probe how intimacy is affected by gender norms.
|What||The Prudes, Royal Court Theatre review|
|Where||Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8AS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Sloane Square (underground)|
18 Apr 18 – 02 Jun 18, Monday - Saturday 19:45, Thursday & Saturday matinees 15:00 (from 26 April)
|Price||£12 - £25|
|Website||Click here for more information|