The obsession for sex within modern day lifestyle has grown in recent years, thanks to a natural leeway towards writing about it in music, film and other media. Communication at both a verbal and non-verbal level, when it comes to talking about the stark truth about sex and the issue of trust with this in relationships is also a key issue of discussion. Owen McCafferty’s Unfaithful at Found111 brings both of these issues to the stage.
In this blackly comic work, Tom (Sean Campion) and Joan (Niamh Cusack) play a middle-aged couple both struggling to deal with Tom facing the regret of having sex with a younger woman. Both lovers suffer from this, with Tom crossing paths with another young lover, Tara (Ruta Gedmintas), over a quiet pint after work. Joan chooses to take revenge on him by having sex with a male escort, Peter (Matthew Lewis), who also happens to be Tara’s boyfriend. Somehow, it ends with a sense of optimism for both couples and their longevity, which unfortunately loses a sense of great conclusion for each sub-plot and theme.
There’s clearly a greater importance riding behind the middle-aged couple of Tom and Joan rather than the younger, which makes the overall impression of the plot slightly unbalanced. Having said this, there is a brilliant chemistry between Cusack and Campion who both bring out the layers of positivity and negativity behind unfaithfulness with both a greater experience in acting and life helping with this. Cusack, in particular, is dominating and brilliantly steely in her performance and facial expressions. The blunt script, too blunt at times, draws out the problems and consequences of the middle-aged couple better rather than Tara and Peter. Lewis’ dryness works well as the role of the escort, but not so much as a lover, at times acting too cheeky and out of place for the piece.
Nonetheless, whilst the script may be too harsh, the pace of which it flows works very well. McCafferty is wise with the short length of 70 minutes and never leaving any scene too drawn out. What becomes more dominating than anything when watching is Richard Kent’s design and how incredibly intimate the space at Found111 is. Naturally suiting the stripped-back feel of the script, the set is minimalistic but exactly what it needs to be — simply a large bed in the middle with a mirrored wall on the far end cleverly allowing audiences to catch some facial expressions they can’t at times see from either end of the box stage.
Unfaithful is an interestingly minimalistic view into sex and relationships, exploring unfaithfulness with both the negative and, refreshingly, positive results it can bring. You are both enraptured by the intimacy of the design and characters, yet distanced by the bluntness of McCafferty’s script.
Reviewed by Barry O’Reilly
Photos: Marc Brenner
UNFAITHFUL plays at Found111 until 8 October 2016
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