Talking in Bed

Tom Green
Old Bomb Theatre
Theatre503
(2011)

Talking in Bed publicity photo

The title says it all. Talking in Bed features four couples sequentially chattering away in a universal double bed about their sex lives and not too much else.

Broadly, Tom Green has written four unconnected, half-hour long sitcoms with a general theme of coupling. He has then cut each into four bite-size chunks to fill an evening. These are of necessity more interested in portraying and analysing emotion rather than showing action.

First up, if you will pardon the pun, are Miles and Nat, played by Joseph Glynn and Rachel Dale. They are clearly going through a rocky patch and Miles's suggestion that Nat might spice things up with a change of clothing leads to a somewhat unconventional result that is not really followed through to a conclusion.

Graham and Jason are as camp as it comes. After a long, stable relationship, James Holmes's Graham announces that, almost a fortnight before, he had enjoyed a fling with another man.

His risky solution is for Jason to do likewise. The result is almost inevitable, although Ben Farrow manages to inject a welcome degree of thoughtfulness and feeling in the latter role.

Oliver and Mandy tell a story much-used by writers. This archetypal couple, played by Martin Pirongs and Adele Lynch, have been trying to have a baby for a year and are getting desperate. While this leads to some comic and rather graphic sex scenes, the attempts to rationalise their issues and particularly the associated humour, can feel laboured.

Making far more out of another situation that could be very predictable are the particularly good Dan Maclane playing an educated police officer Slim and Vera Chok as Nadia, a physics teacher, though the odds are that both are lying. That is because in the first of their four short scenes, the pair have just enjoyed a one-night stand.

They somehow sustain the passion and become more reflective over a six-week period, building to a climactic August Bank Holiday Weekend when all four groupings reach a point of no return.

Both the writing and acting are uneven and director Cecily Boys does well in maintaining pace between the sixteen short scenes that fill 2½ hours including an interval.

Splitting a play into four parts and sub-dividing those should theoretically ensure that there is something for everyone. However, Tom Green might have done better to concentrate on one of the couples, probably the last, and develop the characters and ideas into a full-length drama.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher