Review: 21st Century Monogamy Gets Complicated In Four Play

Four Play, Theatre 503 ★★★★☆

Lettie Mckie
By Lettie Mckie Last edited 24 months ago
Review: 21st Century Monogamy Gets Complicated In Four Play Four Play, Theatre 503 4
© Richard Lakos

21st century relationship comedy, Four Play by Jake Brunger is a frank and hilarious take on the complexities of modern day monogamy as told through the eyes of four gay men. Originally commissioned as part of Young Vic, New Voices it's currently having its début run at Theatre 503.

Rafe (Cai Brigden) and Pete (Michael Gilbert) have been together for seven years and things are starting to get a bit boring. To spice up their love life they ask Michael (Peter Hannah) if he might consider sleeping with them, because neither has ever slept with another man. Things get messy, however, when Andrew (Michael James) finds out about the arrangement.

There's more than a shade of Ayckbourn in this sleek, raunchy farce but as it progresses the mood darkens, each character needing to face the reality of what infidelity has done to their relationship. The show's aesthetic perfectly compliments the lives and personalities of the protagonists, Cecilia Carery's versatile wooden box set playfully studded with disco lights and accompanied by a tongue in cheek pop music soundtrack.

The production is slightly let down by a tendency on the part of all the cast to send up their punch lines. The direction is too aware of the audience, the actors looking out into the seats once too often. This is a shame as it gives a fake veneer to Brunger's carefully observed script. Overall, however, this doesn't matter because the production is incredibly entertaining.

Each actor creates a distinct, believable character. Brigden is sweetly vulnerable as Rafe, Gilbert cheekily curious as Pete and Hannah broodingly sexy as Michael, who is forced to confront his promiscuous ways by his jealous boyfriend Michael. James has the audience on tenterhooks as Andrew cunningly orchestrates a plan to catch the three cheats out and the final reveal is brilliantly executed with spot-on comic timing.

Four Play is an honest, reflective piece that avoids clichés whilst challenging the audience to think about the truth of what monogamy means in the 21st century.

Four Play is on at Theatre 503, 503 Battersea Park Road SW11 3BW, until 12 March. Tickets £15/£12/pay what you can Sundays. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 23 February 2016