The One**** (Soho Theatre, 26 February 2014)

Posted: February 27, 2014 in Theatre

the oneThis review was originally written for The Public Reviews: http://www.thepublicreviews.com

Resembling a boxing ring without ropes, the set for this biting, one-act adult comedy is a perfect square platform with refreshments (alcoholic) in opposite corners. Vicky Jones’ debut play amounts to a gladiatorial contest between a man an a woman bound together in a long-term relationship, both using all means at their disposal to gain the upper hand, but neither prepared to strike the ultimate blow which would sever their ties. Jo and Harry are an educated, comfortably off, childless couple. At first, their sparring seems juvenile, fuelled only be boredom, but the arrival of Harry’s old flame Kerry (Lu Corfield) acts as a catalyst for the pair to explore the darker side of their relationship. Kerry has walked out on her partner after an incident of abuse which she believes could have been rape and, in a reversal of gender norms, Harry is warm and sympathetic towards her whilst Jo is flippant and dismissive. So, what are the acceptable boundaries in a relationship and what does each partner really want and expect of the other? We watch from our ringside seats as Jo and Harry empty the wine bottles to slug it out and test each other’s limits. Jones’ dialogue crackles in this fast-paced production; her writing is frank and provocative, teasing us with one prospect and then delivering another. Jo is the younger by ten years and, as played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, she wields guile and raw sex appeal as her weapons in the contest. Rufus Wright’s Harry is a bully with a conscience, prepared to use brawn to overcome brain but, always mindful of the consequences. Running for just an hour, this is the ideal play for couples to drop into after work and then debate for days afterwards. Whilst probing into serious issues and asking searching questions of us all, The One retains a lightness of touch which makes it never less than highly entertaining.

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