TRH Review: Don’t Smoke In Bed

TRH Review: Don’t Smoke In Bed

Originally published on The Reviews Hub

Awarded 4 stars – Unstable

If they hadn’t been chosen for a series of webcam interviews, the lives of Richard (Greg Lockett) and Sheryl (Clare Latham) may well have continued on as ever before – a veneer of happiness and intellectual stimulation that masks their inner fears and doubts. But, they are selected and so find themselves in their bedroom in front of a virtual journalist who wants to know all about their lives. Despite the exterior pretences, is their background simply too different? Can they truly appreciate and understand each other’s upbringings? Or will the subject of race once again prove too controversial for them to overlook?

Aurin Squire writes an insightful analysis of a modern-day couple with age-old problems. Using archaic English nursery rhymes and limericks, he draws a parallel with Richard and Sheryl’s marriage; delving into the rhymes reveals a dark & sinister undertone, yet these ditties are now used to either play & educate children or soothe them to sleep in a typical bedtime ritual. Squire uses a similar premise in depicting Richard and Sheryl’s marriage – the first interview is perky & upbeat (albeit the characters are slightly nervous at the prospect of their private lives being examined), but subsequent interviews delve deeper and bring their insecurities bubbling up to the surface. Andrew Twyman’s direction realises this on stage – playing to two web cameras and an audience on two sides serves to emphasise the level of scrutiny on the characters that eventually comes to a head.

Lockett and Latham (as Richard and Sheryl respectively) have a good on-stage chemistry yet seem more effective and believable when confronting each other with passion and fire than with tenderness and vulnerability. As Sheryl, Latham has a gift of letting the pregnant pauses speak for themselves, keeping up a stony-faced visage to mask her hidden, turbulent thoughts.  While in keeping with character, it sometimes comes across as emotionless – the audience cannot see anything in her eyes that belies how she is truly feeling. By contract, Lockett (playing Richard) wears his emotions on his sleeve – he rants with eloquence and eventually exhibits his hidden prejudices with arrogance. However, in this case, the build-up is more impactful than the punchline and once he admits his indiscretions, Lockett deflates to a shell of his former self. The connection to the tender side of his character is not as well established as with the inflammatory side.

“When life makes you choose between white and black, paint it blue”. Easier said than done, it seems – the paint is merely a smokescreen to cover over the cracks of this particular relationship. Both actors convincingly reveal the issues in what is a well-structured look at an age-old debate.

Writer: Aurin Squire
Director: Andrew Twyman
Reviewer: Daniel Perks

Runs until 22 March 2016