On the surface, they are just like an ordinary suburban middle-class family. Jane is a mother of two and a xenophobic homemaker who has sexual fantasies about black men. Her husband James works hard all day joyfully selling guns to the same "blacks" he and his wife loathe. Their son John is back from university with big ideas and a narrow mind to see Jean, his phone-sex loving girlfriend. His sister Jenny is a sexually active (and sexually frustrated) teenager who enjoys watching her brother in the shower. Oh, and she has a black boyfriend...
Part of the Finborough Theatre's Vibrant festival of new works, Nick Gill's razorsharp satire on middle-class morals and the banality of suburban life is not for the easily offendable. While there's little in the way of swearing, there's enough sexual tension, foreplay and simulation here to make a
Sun On Sunday News Of The World reader blush with the high (low?) point being John using his comatose sister's hand and mouth to stimulate himself to orgasm.
The violence when it comes is the source of pitch black Man Bites Dog-esque humour:
"You might at least say thank you, Jenny. I've been out digging a hole for your boyfriend all night. Not to mention severing his legs. Have you ever severed a leg? It's not as easy as it looks. Not with a blunt spade."
As the story's amoral centre, James (David Verrey) uses his family and commerce to justify his twisted worldview under which his wife and children shelter and take succour from. Catherine Skinner's Jane black-fixation casually careens between deep lust and baseless fear while Louise Collins as both Jenny and Jean is one to watch out for. She bounds around the stage for the most part lending intelligence and charisma to what could have been a one-note character.
The play itself comes across like an episode of American Dad! written by Mark Ravenhill after a night up watching Reginald Perrin re-runs. The dialogue amongst the Js is wickedly banal and without a trace of irony while the black characters' attempts to inject some sanity or sense into them fail miserably. The writing could be tightened up towards the end but this is theatrical Viagra and deserves a wider audience.