Mating In Captivity – Theatre Review

WHEN a couple come home on their wedding night, there’s only one thing (understandably) on their mind – a lot of rampant, drunken sex in the ‘f…k area’. But the presence of a former lover in the marital bed (understandably) upsets the applecart and kills the libido, threatening the marriage before it has even been consummated.

This is the foundation stone of Mating in Captivity, a witty and thought-provoking play written by New Zealander Oliver Page and showing at the King’s Head Theatre as part of its ‘Queer Season’. Bold, brash, ballsy and in places quite brilliant.

The play explores a number of themes – most notably the impact on relationships of hidden pasts that can at any moment bubble up like volcanic molten ash and cause personal carnage. Issues including the corrosive influence of jealousy, the healing aspect of acceptance, and both sexual suppression and sexual experimentation, are also tackled.

It makes for an hour of fun theatre, helped by a vibrant cast who bond like super glue – and some clever direction from Ed Theakston who ensures the play’s frantic pace never slackens.

The wedding couple are Annie (Jane Christie), and Rob (Rowland Stirling). While Annie seems quite chilled with life – occasionally indulging in a little weed and MDMA – Rob is as unstable as a ship in a storm that has left its stabilisers back in port. He’s a bundle of emotional nerves: flamboyant, clever, horribly insecure and needy. Annie is his rock.

Lurking in the marital bed – naked as a jaybird – is Jacob (George Rennie) who has just flown in from Japan after a spell in the Far East teaching English. He thinks he is on a promise, oblivious to the fact that his former teenage lover has just got married.

Emotional mayhem ensues as all three grapple with the situation. There are storming outs, a little bit of drug taking, revealing truths, sexual desires rekindled, searching questions asked (‘do you think my nipples are boring?’ asks Annie of Jacob at one stage), confrontations and reconciliations. Quite a melting pot. Sexual boundaries are frequently challenged. The play’s climax (pun intended) is a little weird although there might be a metaphor from Page hiding behind all the blood.

All rather enjoyable, all rather of the moment – and all rather well acted. Christie’s pragmatic Annie, Rennie’s assured Jacob and Stirling’s complex Rob (Stirling has the look of a young Rupert Everett about him).

A super production from We Are Kilter, founded three years ago by Theakston and Katie Coull. It runs until August 4 (Sunday). Only for the broad minded.

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Title photo by Jack Whitney

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