Swinging Sex Comedy Is More Awkward Than Satirical

By Ben Venables Last edited 48 months ago
Swinging Sex Comedy Is More Awkward Than Satirical ★★☆☆☆ 2

A strong performance from the cast, including Charlie Brooks, cannot lift Contact.com out of confusion. Photo: Kim Hardy

Londonist Rating: ★★☆☆☆

This is awkward.

Contact.com is a sex comedy with intentions toward a satirical bite. Once its cast of two couples, one from North and one from South London, have embarked on a night of swinging sexual pleasure the rest of the play revolves around the consequences, but also explores the very different motivations each set had for the venture in the first place.

The awkwardness could be interesting, if we felt we were eavesdropping on their private lives as secrets are revealed. And, especially so if there were any discomfort created from guests outstaying their welcome into the territory of straightforward intrusion. But there's no danger or jeopardy as the one night only arrangement continues beyond the morning after — it never feels like the Walworth Road tanks are on the Islington lawn. Instead, the awkwardness is for an audience trying to follow scenes that do not logically progress from one to another.

The working class couple are characterised through middle class eyes and vice versa. As individuals they are not believeable or relatable, and it becomes difficult to care about their fragility and problems. Early in the play, Charlie Brooks makes an impact with a suitably revealing dress for her character. From this, there are occasional touches on the unconcealed idiocy of male sexual desire, but this never becomes the strong throughline that it could or that is needed. The themes evoked through differences in age, class and money remain similarly underdeveloped.

It's a shame, because there are good ideas under the surface. Yet despite the strong cast, striking set design and an initial 20 minutes that promise something in the vein of Patrick Marber's Closer, Contact.com is a frustrating and disappointing play, with only confused notions about what it is attempting to say.

Contact.com runs at the Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park until 14 February, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm. Tickets from £20/£25 (£18). Londonist saw this play on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 25 January 2015