Tough Time, Nice Time

Jon Haynes and David Woods
Barbican Pit

Production photo

David Woods and Jon Haynes – who perform under the title of Ridiculusmus - have been working together now for fifteen years and they can always be relied on to come up with something different.

Tough Time, Nice Time is the third Ridiculusmus show the Barbican has commissioned.

Their latest work, which was created and written during a series of improvisations, reading and travel over a two year period, is a conversation piece about sex, movies, celebrity and genocide.

Two naked Germans sit in a bath facing each other. The bath represents a gay sauna in Bangkok.

Haynes plays a lawyer who describes how he watched a rent boy he had befriended bleed to death in his flat and did nothing.

Woods plays a ghost writer whose family served in the SS. “I like to see people suffer,” he says. “It gives me great pleasure.”

The lawyer’s mother was a prostitute and one day when he was a boy he came home to find that she had gone and left no forwarding address.

Woods and Haynes just sit in the bath - two film buffs in the buff - and chat and tell sadomasochistic stories. (All story-tellers, we are told, are liars and can’t be trusted.)

Both men deny they are gay. A pass is, nevertheless, made, but instantly brushed aside.

Nothing happens. There is no funny business, no changing character, no meta-theatricality. Aficionados of Ridiculusmus may be disappointed.

Woods and Haynes, as you would expect after fifteen years, are totally at ease in each other’s company, but, good actors though they are, Tough Time, Nice Time doesn’t go anywhere.

Audiences coming to Ridiculusmus for the first time may well think it’s all a lot of old Bangkok. Some people will find the crude dialogue distasteful.

Until 15th March

Gail-Nina Anderson reviewed this production on tour at Northern Stage, Newcastle

Reviewer: Robert Tanitch