Marcos is a Brazilian student in London, Gareth is a slightly older Londoner: they fall in love. Immigration, flatsharing, racism, unrequited lesbian love and civil partnership law affects them both. Gareth wants Marcos to move in with him but suspicious flatmate Darren warns that Marcos is only interested in Gareth's bigger, better furnished house. Meanwhile, Pam and Becky face the consequences of their experimental fling. So far, so Hollyoaks but a few things redeem the reliance on telly clichés in this play.
Firstly, Foreign Affair is written and directed without any tricks or gimmicks so beloved of other new writing. Secondly, while sometimes clichéd and unexciting, the cast are convincing and empathetic, making it easy to care about what happens. Writer, producer, director and actor Andre Bacelar plays Marcos with an appealing guilelessness. Stephen Connery-Brown as Gareth has genuine chemistry with Bacelar and their relationship is convincing when going well and when it is not. Becky and Pam's fling is less convincing though Hannah Purdy (Becky) and Antonia Oliver (Pam) achieve most of the comic moments in Foreign Affair as they skirt around one another. Darren is a petty little Iago in a tight t-shirt as played by Jason Carter, who presents the most complex character of the four.
However, complexity does not occur much elsewhere in Foreign Affair. The really complicated questions about civil partnershps and the unexpected pressures and anxieties they place on same-sex couples are breezily ignored for the sake of soap opera-style confrontations around a barbecue. This drama is an accomplished production with a lot of heart but could be a far more daring exploration of bold, new foreign territory than its current fairly safe stroll through metrosexual London.
Foreign Affair at the Above The Stag Theatre, until 30 May. For more information and tickets, go to the ATS Theatre website.