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Review: Threesome @ The Edinburgh Fringe

This review was originally written for EdFringeReview.com

Threesome. The word is at once exciting and terrifying in equal measure. For some, it is the holy grail of sexual adventure. For others, it is merely the opportunity to disappoint two instead of one.

It may sometimes seem as if threesomes are just a run-of-the-mill feature in our sexually-liberated post-60s playground but the sobering truth is that a fiery ménage-a-trois is as far away from beige carpeted Middle England as a paunchy middle-aged office worker from Birmingham is from appearing in the next E.L. James novel.

Jamie Patterson’s debut play, a comedy, confirms exactly what I have suspected all along – that despite all the liberating eroticism and taboo-breaking excitement that would accompany a threesome, the overwhelming feeling would be one of crippling awkwardness and supreme embarrassment.

Chris Willoughby and Gemma Rook play Sam and Kate, two frustrated 30-somethings whose marriage has grown stale in the bedroom. April Pearson is Lucy, the rouge-lipped bright young thing they approach to help them reignite that spark.

After a short filmed opening sequence depicting Sam and Kate’s solicitation of Lucy’s help outside a nightclub, the trio enter onto the sparse set of Lucy’s bedroom and, instead of falling lustily into each other’s arms, proceed to deliberate at length over their contrasting opinions on promiscuity and sexual experimentation.

It’s a great idea for a play. Sam’s timidity and Kate’s reticence contrast well with Lucy’s forthright bluntness. The collision between cosy, closeted middle-age and vivacious, vibrant youth is the source of much humour and Patterson’s dialogue provides some truly fantastic moments. When Kate’s aversion to fellating Sam is exposed, Sam’s retort is magnificent: “You might not like putting my willy in your mouth, but I’m not fond of kale.” But throughout, the focus is very much on getting laughs, not on insightful, progressive discussion.

Unfortunately, although the premise is sound and the writing witty enough to sporadically amuse, the play’s structure is formulaic and the cast uninspiring. One character has an excuse to leave the room, the other two share a joke-filled but turgid conversation, the other returns at an unfortunate moment. There is no little chemistry, little enthusiasm, and were it not for the sharpness of Patterson’s script, Threesome would die a forgettable death.

Unfortunately, short of the cast actually stripping down and doing the deed on stage, Threesome doesn’t really have anywhere to go. The pre-coital conversation begins to flounder as the show goes on, and although the jokes become steadily coarser, this cannot redeem it and the promise of its premise is regrettably unfulfilled.

2/5

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