Tom Morton-Smith’s intriguing play - part of the Papatango New Writing Festival - probes the place where sexual fantasy and reality meet.
Skye Lourie and Harry Lister Smith in Everyday Maps for Everyday Use at the Finborough Theatre, London Photo: Richard Davenport
Maggie, a troubled teenage girl, has taken to dancing in the dark, communing with the hot thing she believes is buried beneath the dirt, seeking escape from herself through sex. The play is set in Woking, the site of HG Wells’ Martian invasion, and the exploration of alien terrain is a recurring theme. Behrooz is an artist and astronomer who creates work based on the surface of Mars, while his friend from university, John, is also a cartographer, though of less distant landscapes. Maggie’s mother Corrine is an explorer of sorts as well, though only in the bedroom - a sexual questing.
Morton-Smith’s play is at its best when charting the borderlands of sexual desire and contains some beautiful, startling passages of writing but there are far too many tangled strands for a play of this length. Instead of being a pleasingly dense work, a pleasure to unpick, some of the most interesting characters are left on the peripheries, frustratingly underdeveloped (Harry Lister Smith’s endearing Kiph is a case in point). There’s a failure to convince in some of the characters’ interactions and though the complex relationship between Maggie - played with suitably adolescent intensity by Skye Lourie - and her mother is engagingly shaded, there’s more than a touch of the manic pixie to Maggie’s fragility.