“Nancy Sullivan delivers Leah with warmth and an immediate likeability”
“I’m revolting,” Leah says, opening the play. Her and her husband, Ben Cavendish, meet when he comes in for a suit and she, in the words of her disapproving mother in law, “serves” him. On the third date he calls her “potential wife material” and sure enough, soon Leah is picking out dresses and planning her wedding. But this is not the narrative of a happy marriage. It is a story about sexual assault, within and later, outside of marriage, how rape is justified by its perpetrators, and the failures of an unbelieving judicial system.
Within this, the show also comments on the roles women are expected to play in society, the trajectory women’s lives are supposed to follow and the confusion that disillusionment brings. Clothing, as the title suggests, weaves a strong motif throughout the show, a reflection of the societal and judicial obsession with the clothing worn by someone who has been raped. Class is also underlying in Leah’s depictions of her mother in law and of Ben.
Abi Zakarian is a beautiful writer, leading us from light to dark with ease. The accounts of rape have such an impact that they are difficult to focus beyond – we leave the theatre still reeling – although the foreboding answer machine messages that pepper the play feel a little unnecessary.
Nancy Sullivan delivers Leah with warmth and an immediate likeability, giggling away, genuine and familiar. Her journey across the play, and the horrific and graphic accounts of rape, are incredibly moving and impactful, an unflinching performance from a very impressive performer.
Anna Reid’s set is scattered pieces of furniture, chairs mainly, which connote different spaces across the narrative, a visual map of Leah’s story, though I’m not sure how much they add.
This is a topical, and vital piece of theatre delivered by a clear talent, that discusses rape as well as the society that so often justifies and perpetuates it.
“McEntire and Huntley as the two leads give incredible performances”
Jordan Seavey’s ‘Homos, or Everyone in America’, receiving its European premiere at the Finborough Theatre, is a whirlwind of a play, full of love, intelligence, mystery and warmth.
Told in scenes that leap around between 2006 and 2011, ‘Homos…’ is the story of ‘The Writer’ (Harry McEntire) and ‘The Academic’ (Tyrone Huntley), two twenty-somethings living in Brooklyn, NY. They meet over Friendster, the social networking site that appears to have been the next big thing before Myspace and Facebook arrived on the block, and from a drunken first date onwards, the play charts their highs and lows, their arguments, make-ups, break-ups and everything in between, until one life-changing event unsettles and rearranges everything they had before. “Handsome, and sort of strapping” Dan (Dan Krikler), a friend of The Academic, becomes a key player in the couple’s downfall, whilst Laila (Cash Holland), an enthusiastic and kind Lush worker, does what she can to help a stranger in a time of need.
A play about well-educated New York gay men talking about being gay can hardly be called ground-breaking, but Seavey’s script, stylistically built up on half-sentences, interruptions and people talking over each other, is moving, truthful, and feels real. The structure means each scene is sort of a guessing game as to when and where we are in the relationship, and the neat movement sequences (simply effective work from Chi-San Howard) work with the script to foreshadow a darker event on the couples’ horizon.
McEntire and Huntley as the two leads give incredible performances, sitting into the characters convincingly, and seeming free and at ease with each other and the space. Both actors display an impressive ability to snap out of emotional fraught scenes and move into lighter ones (and vice versa) at the drop of hat, and in a play so filled with arguments, they make the most of the kinder, funnier moments to give the audience a sense of why they are together.
Josh Seymour’s direction keeps the action varied, even when the script begins to feel a little repetitive (argue – make-up – repeat), and by giving us physical milestones at the beginning to keep an eye out for, gives a strange sense of emotional déjà vu, as if it’s somehow our relationship up on stage. A word of warning though: those with sensitive noses beware, this production contains Lush products, and lots of them.
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand…” Williams Blake once wrote, and on the Finborough’s luscious, sand-covered stage, this relationship works hard to be the one grain representing many. It seemed odd at first to be taken back to Bush and Obama, but that time frame, and the shock and drama of the finale, suggest now more than ever is a time for vigilance and action. Has the world become (to use a word hated by The Writer) less tolerant, less safe? We hope not, but in the meantime, let’s celebrate love, kindness and what individuals can do for each other.