Monday, 30 January 2017
Theatre review: Experience
Dan is up for parole soon, and Helen is hoping for results by then so that this can become a regular contract, so Amy and her therapeutic vagina are on a deadline.
But she's hampered by the rules that mean she has to go in blind, knowing nothing about Dan's past or his crime. We hear a lot about how patients can often get too attached to their sexual surrogate but as Amy pushes the boundaries to get to know as much about Dan as she can it's obvious that inappropriate attachment can go both ways. Tom Attenborough's production is straightforward and well-paced on a grubby industrial design by Polly Sullivan full of hidden doors and concealed sets.
This is a simple story that doesn't hold too many surprises until the end - and then when we do get a twist in why Dan committed his crime it's a bit too late and not really explored enough. But in something that Hampstead Downstairs seems to be quite good at lately, Florez has wisely picked a fresh and unusual subject that does a lot of the legwork in keeping the audience interested. Casting Cooke in a play has to be risky, since you can't get someone else to redub his performance later, but while he dips too much into the ticks and twitches from The Big Book of Mental Illness Acting he does seem to have had a few acting lessons since he first turned up on TV.
Lucas is nicely enigmatic although Besterman doesn't really get enough to do to make her character feel like a rounded person. Experience intrigued me but I can't say I was entirely sucked into its world.
Experience by Dave Florez is booking until the 18th of February at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs.
Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes straight through.
Photo credit: Robert Day.