Writer: Louis Emmit-Stern
Director: Joseph Winer
A title like I Fucked You in My Spaceship suggests something bold and gleefully tasteless, so it’s a surprise that writer, Louis Emmit-Stern has written a subdued relationship drama that teeters on the bland.
It starts promisingly, with Leo and Dan discussing Leo’s sexual fantasy: being abducted by an alien with a gentle voice. They decide to invite student, Al, to play the alien. A second couple, Anna and Emily also need to invite a third party into their relationship, a sperm donor called Robert. The play tracks the parallel experiences of both couples as these (Midwich) cuckoos get comfy in their respective nests.
The dialogue is natural and funny, with discussions about alien stereotyping or the advantages and disadvantages of the name Bernadette. Lewis Shepherd, playing Robert the donor, is particularly good at delivering feckless confusion, especially when paired up with Rebecca Banatvala’s dorky Anna. Felix Kai as Al also displays a smiling and inviting sexual confidence as he ponders whether aliens even have arseholes.
Despite having a cast of six, the play is structured through a series of short scenes featuring two characters at a time. This repetition of raised lights, two characters walking on stage from opposite directions, short scene, walking off in opposite directions followed by lowered lights, saps a lot of energy from the piece. This is not helped by the vague blocking, with the actors wafting about the space during their scene.
Despite having no set or props, there’s a strange antipathy to mime. Actors deliver lines about items they are holding, such as cups and towels, with their arms crossed. A number of times characters talk about information on computer monitors whilst expansively gesturing to the audience, as if this is a world with wall-mounted screens. The stilted scene progression and uncertain movement means the play drifts forward, undercutting the production’s intention to be ‘razor sharp’.
I Fucked You in My Spaceship is a polite, even pleasant experience. The characters are amiable, the story is fairly engaging, but the only aspect of the play that will really linger is the title.
Runs until 10 February 2023