★★★★ | Unfaithful at Found 111
What happens when your once passionate relationship starts to become stale and sexless? In the case of Tom and Joan, you sleep with a stranger, tell your wife about it and then wait for the explosions of bitterness, venom and rage. Oh…and the retaliation.
Found 111 is a pop up theatre on Charing Cross Road in an old college building. It’s hosted critically acclaimed hits including ‘The Dazzle” with Sherlock’s Andrew Scott and “Bug” with the luscious James Norton. It’s a tiny space and in the case of issues about sex, for once, small is good. This play works well in a cramped environment. It’s a hilarious and excruciating 75-minute trawl through moments in the lives of two couples as they lurch around a bed on the stage. This is a voyeuristic and intimate experience that is as painfully uncomfortable as it’s intriguing. Thankfully, it’s very funny too which helps.
Niamh Cussack (of the Cussack acting dynasty) shows her pedigree and is monumental as the wronged wife. She’s a delicious mixture of seething, uncontained anger contrasted with insecurity and hurt. She’s magnetic and is almost impossible to draw your gaze away from. She’s more than ably accompanied by Sean Campion as her feckless and beaten-down by life husband. They have the best lines in the play and Joan and Tom are well rounded and fascinating in their ordinariness.
Matthew Lewis (Harry Potter’s Neville Longbottom all grown up and buff) and Ruta Gedmintas play less instantly credible characters. They eventually flesh out (as well as getting flesh out) and in spite of a slightly creaky plot, become almost plausible. Lewis plays a well-hung male hooker with a heart and Gedmintas plays his lost-soul girlfriend, so bored with her life that hooking up with middle aged men in bars seems a diverting pastime.
Owen McCafferty’s script is tight and engaging with no slack moments and the characters are mostly resonant and sympathetic. This isn’t a Whitehall farce or a night at the musicals but there’s something thrillingly earthy about the whole experience. Theatre in microcosm with a stellar central performance like Cussack’s is a rare opportunity and one to be embraced.
Unfaithful plays at Found111 until 8th October
Follow Chris Bridges on Twitter
Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He’s usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.