Butterflies, blind dates and birthdays are some of the recurring themes connecting these self-contained interwoven new relationship plays. The authors have each worked with artistic directors Tim Roseman and Paul Robinson in the past at Theatre 503 and have now created a kind of theatrical pick-and-mix of their work to open the pair’s last season together before Roseman’s departure.
The splicing together of five stand-alone pieces in this way is a bit gimmicky and it often feels like the distinctive styles of the writers would be better showcased by individual half-hour slots delivered back-to-back. But the dialogue is sparky and shines despite a somewhat loose overriding structure, as does Roseman and Robinson’s slick direction and the cast’s well polished performances.
The fabulous Mark Wingett (best known as Jim Carver in The Bill) is compelling as a father confronted by a letter from his younger self in Ben Ellis’s piece, while Kate Sissons’ portrayal of a wannabe reality TV show star is sharp and empathetic in Rex Obano’s. Nunnery humorously links butterfly breeding to human sexual relationships. Meanwhile, Matt Hartley’s well-observed teenage couple unearth one another’s secrets on a city farm. A duologue from Alice Birch is initially perplexing, but develops into one of the most imaginative exchanges in a collection sometimes overly reliant on the familiar make-ups and break-ups of cosy TV drama.