A Partnership ☆☆☆
Theatre 503, London
A Partnership has an in depth look at whether two men in modern-day London can have a long-lasting monogamous relationship. In real time over the course of an hour, partners Ally (Ben Hadfield) and Zach (Rory Thomas-Howes) have returned to their new flat after a night out to celebrate Ally’s 30th Birthday the next day.
The conversation is at first quick and jovial but it’s pretty clear that there are serious underlying tensions. With packing boxes and crates strewn around its not a promising start in their new home as it transpires that Zach started a fight “I’m drunk and I’m tetchy but I’m ok”. Zach seems like a Grinch and Ally seems fun but high maintenance (his funny flirty telephone conversation with Mr Patel is a highlight).
They seem a believable couple in that their differences form the basis of their mutual attraction but as time goes by those differences are driving them apart.
The drugs come out.. The audience laugh as Zach uses a John Lewis loyalty card to chop lines.
Issues flare up, are gnawed at like a dog with a bone and then dropped…. public displays of affection and subsequent fear of violence when out and about, Ally’s bisexuality, loss of sexual appetite, monogamy, domestic violence, open relationships, all fall under a microscopic examination.
It turns out they have both cheated, and not had sex for a year and a half. Ally has forced the difficult conversation to happen; “you have 20 minutes to convince me that this relationship is worth saving”.
Hadfield as Ally brings a much needed lightness and humour to the piece. Thomas-Howes (both actor and playwright) brings a suitably taciturn sullenness to his role and a good ear for dialogue to the script. When he hits Ally (coming after the off stage violence) it’s all too believable. Director Josh Tucker ensures the pace doesn’t flag and creates an effective bond between the two actors and uses their physical differences to accentuate the dynamics tearing them apart.
Are they having a mid-life crisis at just 30 years old brought on prematurely by both internal and external homophobia or are we just hearing an annoying couple bickering? Like their relationship you find yourself asking about the play “Where is it going?”
REVIEW : JONNY WARD
Jonny Ward, Queerguru Contributing Editor is a drama graduate but has worked backstage for many years at venues such as The ROYAL ALBERT Hall, The 02, Southbank Centre and is currently at The National Theatre. He lives in Hoxton, London and is delighted to check out the latest, the hottest and the downright dodgy in queer culture for Queerguru. (P.S. He is currently single) @JonnyWard360