Date: 05/17/2001
Author: Aleks Sierz

The domestic arrangement that the middle classes call a “men-age a trois” would be recognised by Sun readers as a simple three-some. In David Spencer’s gruelling new play, Darren, a divorced sixties music fan, moves in with Tina and her disabled teenage son, Ollie. So desperate is she for love that she allows Damen to watch porn movies in the house, dresses up for him and allows him to do anything he likes. But when she brings home his new 17-year-old lover Carol, Tina is punished to the brink.

Spencers writes with a rare ability to explore emotive issues – such as female jealousy, male manipulation and abusive relationships – without pontificating or being politically correct. Like playwright Paul Tucker, he is prepared to leave the cosy suburbs and explore the less previleged side of town: Psychologically convincing, desperately raw and bleakly funny, his play is at first a little cluttered with family detail, but soon emerges as a thumping plece of in-yer-face theatre – strong, violent and emotionally truthful.

After an unforgettably brutal opening with describes the killing of a cow, the play is tautly directed by George Ormond, who is helped by committed performances from Adrian Lochhead, Karen E Jones and Lorraine Hodgson as Darren, Tina and Carol, with Alexander Perkins making his stage debut as Ollie.

Blessed with an exhilarating sixties soundtrack, this powerful production by Critical Mass leaves a indelible impression of the excruciating impression neediness and appalling cruelty of love. It is a smashing show.