Though it was written in 1999, this is the first time Charlotte Jones’ comedy about a dominatrix contemplating quitting the profession as a significant birthday looms, has been performed in London.
Set in designer Amy Mitchell’s cramped Bolton living room set stuffed with antiquated furniture (there’s even a hostess trolley), the play sees a kooky bunch of characters come together for her party.
Robert Wolstenholme’s production is pitched as a farce with costume changes announced with a dramatic swinging open of the door. Sioned Jones, Kellie Batchelor and Matt Lim are all excellent as the titular trio, making sure there’s enough melancholia to keep the play from collapsing under its own ridiculousness.
Best of all, though, is Charlie Bence as Brenda-Marie, the Torvill and Dean-obsessed daughter of Martha, who is sharper than she lets on.
Though the comedic set-ups come thick and fast, there is a seriousness underneath all of this levity, with the play encompassing familial reunions and big confessions. These don’t land as well as the funny sections, careering into soap opera territory at times. It’s also worth saying that some of the plot points, not to mention the way the play uses obsessive compulsive disorder as comedy fodder, are pretty jarring today.
But there’s no denying that the evening’s a huge amount of fun. Like all the best parties, time zooms by and you’ll leave thankful you spent time in the company of these oddballs.