ComedyDramaLondonReviewWest End

Wendy Hoose – Soho Theatre, London

Writer and Director: Johnny McKnight

Director: Robert Softley Gale

Reviewer: Stephen Bates


It would seem that the days of romantic dating are gone. No more candlelit dinners, not even a chat up over a Bacardi and Coke in a bar. Nowadays, just a few short messages on a phone app and it is straight down to business. The problem is that what you don’t see is often what you get.

Johnny McKnight’s one-act comedy shows us a modern sexual encounter with a twist (no spoilers here). Jake arrives at Laura’s flat to find her waiting in bed dressed only in an alluring negligee and, after a brief pause to express horror that she keeps red wine in the fridge, he joins her. Both parties seek only physical pleasure, neither expects that they will be together long enough even to share a breakfast.

Amy Conachan’s Laura is a confident modern woman, happy to play the game by the same rules as the men. James Young’s Jake is a boastful but slightly awkward Glaswegian who is thrown onto the defensive when events take an unexpected turn. The production is staged with surtitles, sign language and a sarcastic sound commentary.

McKnight’s punchy little play has scant regard for any taboos that still linger. It is bawdy, uninhibited and very likely to displease a maiden aunt up from the shires. However, it has another dimension and it shows refreshing honesty when challenging audiences to question their own preconceptions and prejudices with regard to people who are different from the norm. The writer’s point is that, even though political correctness may be woven into everyday life, in the bedroom individuals are exposed and there is nowhere for them to hide their true feelings.

The play is amusing throughout, but McKnight relies too heavily on the expectation that sexually explicit dialogue will shock audiences into laughing and irritating repetition of jokes makes it feel as if the play is going round in circles, too long even at just 65 minutes.

Yet, in a different way, it also feels too short, like a single scene that needs to be expanded to a full-length play in which the characters might become better fleshed out and their inner emotions might be more fully explored. In other words, Wendy Hoose could itself be likened to a one-night stand – fun while it lasts, but not completely satisfying.

Runs until 7 May 2015 | Image: Eamonn McGoldrick

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