The funny side of sexual perversity   1 Nov 2005


What: Sexual Perversity in Chicago by David Mamet.

Who: (potent pause) Productions.

When: October 25 to November 13. Tuesdays to Saturdays @ 7.45pm, Sundays @ 4pm.

Where: Greenwich Playhouse, London.

Cost: £10, concession £8

Reviewer: Ellie van Baaren

Warning, this play contains strong language, often of a sexual nature, that may offend some people. And with a script by David Mamet, I wouldn’t have expect anything else.

Raw, unashamedly provocative, yet unavoidably funny, Sexual Perversity in Chicago is the story of a brief but intense relationship between Danny (Will Birch) and Deborah (Emmy Happisburgh), in 1974 Chicago.

Don’t come expecting a complicated or involved plot, as with most of Mamet’s plays, the most striking, and important, things are the sharp lines and the characters uttering them.

I’m not sure whether I particularly liked any of the four characters, but they did command my attention. Especially Bernie (Michael Lawrence).

With a moustache you wish you could take a razor to and a confident swagger that belies "issues" from his childhood, Bernie is the kind of larger-than-life character who can tempt an actor to take it that little bit too far. But, although Lawrence emerged like a tidal wave in the first couple of scenes, he took it down a couple of notches after that, settling at a level that was more comfortably uncomfortable for the audience.

The play is well done in a very intimate space, and you really do feel that the show is going on just for you.

There are a lot of scenes, some of them very short, and I found it a little disjointed at times, almost like a series of vignettes rather than one continuous story. However, it didn’t annoy me enough to break my attention span.

It’s not overly long, a quite comfortable hour and 15 minutes, finishing without giving you time to get bored. But don’t expect an ending that ties up all the loose ends. The final scene comes suddenly without fanfare.

Although Danny and Deborah (Emmy Happisburgh) were perfectly likeable characters, I got the most enjoyment from each party’s best friends – Joan (Susannah Saary) and Bernie.

Like I said, I didn’t particularly like either of them, but they did make me laugh and had some of the best lines.

All in all, even though I knew very little about this play before I went, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Well acted and directed with a couple of absolute classic rock songs thrown in to get you in the mood. Just don’t expect the actors to watch their language.

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