Writer: Alan Ayckbourn
Director: Lucy Bull
Reviewer: Agnes Frimston
Schoolgirl Sorrel casts aside her morals to help her now bankrupt mother to stay afloat by setting up as a prostitute in their shared riverside flat. Advertising on the internet and roping in her friend Kelly to help, her plan starts to unravel when her first client arrives, and promptly snuffs it in the middle of her living room floor.
Gameplan is the first in a trilogy of plays written by Alan Ayckbourn in 2001. It covers the theme of teenage prostitution with a hammy 1970s gloss: a 16 year-old selling their body because they feel they don’t have any other options! Naively not realising the implications! What japes! It’s a brave writer who uses farce to examine such a dark theme, but then if you’re not interested in exploring the implications and are using it as a simple plot device, you haven’t really thought it through properly.
Everyone in this show is great. Elaine Harry as the tired and skint mother Lynette is gently worn out and understated. You really do believe she was once a successful dotcom businesswoman who is reduced to cleaning offices. Stacey Bland holds the production together as a very convincing and manipulative Sorrel, and Nicola Bland rather steals the show as her wimpy friend Kelly roped in to “maid” for her. Her comic-timing and elastic face are electric, and reasons alone to go and see this production. Jethro Dykes deserves a mention for stoically keeping both a straight-face and his lines coming in the face of both Blands doing their utmost to put him off.
This was very deftly directed by Lucy Bull – the audience were kept interested and laughing. It’s a difficult subject, and Ayckbourn handles it with the subtlety of a chicken, which some audience-members may find difficult. But the cast and directing make it worth a visit.