Consistently Infrequent

December 8, 2011

A Round-Heeled Woman, Aldwych Theatre, London (2011 Production)

Filed under: Theatre — Tony Breyal @ 6:20 pm

The Plot

A 66 year old woman who has been celibate for 30 years decides to put an advertisement in the paper for a man she can both like and have sex with. Lots of sex.

The Theatre

For this production all the seats from Row M in the Stalls to the back of the theatre have been partitioned off by a series of fake walls to create a more intimate atmosphere. We were sat in J6 and J7 which have a decent view of the entire stage when the people in front either slouch or lean to one side, with J6 having the added bonus of also being an aisle seat in a row with limited legroom. The row directly in front is HH with its seats not well staggered against row J and also very little rake between them.

The Verdict

I wasn’t expecting to like this play and so was pleasantly surprised to find myself both laughing along to most of the jokes and actually caring about the protagonist, maybe even admiring her somewhat for having the guts to go out and get what she wants. The last time I was surprised to find myself enjoying a show I had low expectations for was The Drowsy Chaperone and the fact it didn’t run longer in the West End is tragedy in my opinion.

The opening joke was a particular highlight and pretty funny with her masturbating while starting to have phone sex and then telling the man on the other end that ofcourse she is alone and would never do anything like that in front of an audience – at which point she breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience while acting slightly embarrassed. My friend and I had an interesting conversation during the interval about this brief seen and the difference between how male and female masturbation is often portrayed on stage, in movies, on TV and in literature – for women it’s usually shown as a sensual act with a deep emotional connection whereas for men it’s usually shown to be a purely animal urge for sexual release . Now ofcourse there are exceptions but still it’s sad that these difference are what are often portrayed when in reality, for both men and women, it can be all those things. Also I was surprised she didn’t have any tissues with her.

A low point was when there’s a memory being played out of when she took her father to a strip-bar so he can have a lap dance (this was when she was younger and wanted his approval). During the lapdance one of the actresses exposes her breasts (large fake plastic ones which have been placed over her real chest) and it is really quite seedy and off-putting to watch but then again on reflection I suppose maybe that was kind of the point that was being made.

One of the most interesting parts of the play is how the character of the leading lady doesn’t just hop into bed with just anyone but has standards and tries to find the attractive qualities in the men she meets. One man she meets is 30 years her junior and this causes her friends to feel embarrassed for her. Again, this is one of those things I’ve never really understood because why should anyone judge what two consenting adults get up to in the privacy of their lives if they’re not hurting anyone? Why hinder their happiness – it’s their lives after all.

Overall a surprisingly fun play made watchable by not only the performances of the actors, who are superb, but also by the fact that it’s not just about sex but about being alone and needing to feel desired and touched by another human being and what kind of situations that can lead to. An interesting way to spend a couple of hours that’s for sure with lots of jokes along the way and some heartbreak.

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