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Imaginationship review at Finborough Theatre, London – ‘sex and Brexit’

Joanna Bending and Rupert Wickham in Imaginationship at Finborough Theatre, London. Photo: Phil Gammon Joanna Bending and Rupert Wickham in Imaginationship at Finborough Theatre, London. Photo: Phil Gammon

Sue Healy’s Imaginationship, previously staged as a reading at the Finborough, is expertly patterned. Events and characters, each embodying some aspect of the title (imagination-plus-relationship) fit together like a mosaic.

Ginnie, hosting a 1976 nostalgia night in a Great Yarmouth dance hall, yearns for Brenda, whose one interest is still, at 59, the next shag with anyone male (although she dallied druggily with Ginnie at 19). Brenda’s daughter Melody longs for love rather than sex with her ambivalent night school teacher of Greek culture, Tony (who has just written a paper on – what else? – Eros ). Hungarian marine biologist-cum-canning factory worker, Attila, interested in Melody and pursued by Brenda, suffers – aptly – from priapism.

None of these characters develops much beyond primary colours, although Healy plays with metaphor, invoking Plato’s cave of shadows. The denouement, looping back to 1976, fits all-too neatly.

Serious subjects: men as sexual victims, the dislocation between London and Brexit-voting towns, and between locals and better educated, struggling immigrants are raised but not investigated in depth.

In the opening scene, two men, a Lithuanian and a local, clean up after a mass murder. They meet again at the end. These two – bantering, ill-matched, swapping naff jokes – feel more like believable people.

Director Tricia Thorns and her cast, especially Jilly Bond as Ginnie, Joanna Bending as Melody and Bart Suavek as Attila, make the most of opportunities, although the violent climax is difficult to pull off in the intimate Finborough.

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Neatly structured, if schematic, piece about sex in a Brexit town