Peepshow

Frantic Assembly and Isabel Wright

Lyric, Hammersmith

(2002)

Review by Philip Fisher

Peepshow is a claustrophobic investigation of the joy and pain of love. It looks at three couples and a loner in their late 20s and explores the ways in which they communicate their love and also what happens when they fail to do so.

Frantic Assembly specialise in combining text with music (in this case from pop group Lamb) and stunning choreography from Dan O'Neill. In an uncommon move, Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett direct but do not act. The fusion of artistic forms that also includes film and song adds a great deal of beauty to Isabel Wright's moving script.

The couples each vie for power, whether living together, almost doing so or newly met. In each case, one member is possessive and all are, in some ways, as lonely as Richard, the man whose main love appears to be the seductive Lithuanian lady on a language tape.

Some of the scenes are really sexy but all tell their own stories. Each character has the actor's own Christian name. Thus Sharon (Duncan-Brewster) may live with and love Richard (Mylan) but as they make love to loud rock, Richard (Dempsey) is in bed too, at least in Sharon's mind.

Similarly, as they open their relationship and begin to talk through their problems, George (Georgina Lamb) and Ben (Joiner) manage to carry their lovemaking through all four flats following the path of the only corkscrew in Dick Bird's wonderfully designed two-storey building.

The final and perhaps most interesting couple is Kate (Alderton) and Sarah (Beard), who also give some of the best performances. Sarah has moved into Kate's flat and while knowing that Kate fancies her brother it is she, Sarah, that loves Kate to despairing distraction.

In the space of one night, the three relationships reach crisis point and then resolve themselves while the bat-like loner finally connects albeit only by mobile phone. In 90 minutes, the relationships of young people are explored in the way that only Frantic Assembly can manage.

This play that is so much more, may not be perfect but is great to watch and listen to and really tears at the heart-strings. By the end, any respectable viewer should feel embarrassed at their voyeuristic prurience but should also have a better understanding of the stresses and pleasures that make young people tick.