Everyday Maps for Everyday Use at the Finborough Theatre
Horsell Common, Woking – 2012. A warm patch of ground where alien life pulsates beneath. It is here that the central metaphor exists for the entangled plot lines that playwright Tom Morton-Smith unravels for his audience. Bringing sexual taboos to the forefront of the characters’ motivation, questions are deliberately raised to challenge the moral judgements of the audience. Tom Morton-Smith won second prize for Everyday Maps for Everyday Use this year in the hugely successful Papatango New Writing Competition 2012. Dedicated to supporting and developing fresh writing talent, this prestigious award (completely unfunded) has recognised a vibrant and innovative script that encourages the freedom of the audience’s imagination.
A young girl, Maggie, is struggling to come to terms with her own sexual desires. Closely connected to her absolute obsession with H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, she is torn between what is morally acceptable and her erotic feelings towards alien forms. After a chance meeting with Maggie on her “warm patch of ground”, Behrooz, an ex-cartographer and wannabe-astrologer, is blown away by her sexual interest in his maps of Mars. Though insinuations are made to Maggie being younger than 16, Behrooz has already accused a friend of having paedophilic tendencies. This friend, newly married and a father-to-be, has just turned down the opportunity to have free, no-strings attached sex with Maggie’s “slut” mum. What a tangled web Morton-Smith has weaved.
Though this might sound utterly unconvincing, the sensitive writing and direction of the play creates a blurring of these demanding subjects that test our own moral and sexual boundaries. Desperate to reach the pureness of “normality”, most of the characters are consumed with the guilt of their own “perversions”. This is a key theme throughout the play.
However, it is impossible to get lost in these heavy questions, as the general theatrical experience is confusingly light hearted. There are moments of glittering humour between the characters who effortlessly create these very real relationships. The company are superbly cast and completely believable in their roles. In the small space of the Finborough Theatre, director Beckie Mills uses lighting to define different settings, so playing on the confusing world between reality and fantasy.
Deeply symbolic and chin deep in metaphor, Everyday Maps for Everyday Use does not come to any decisive conclusion. This extraordinary play leaves you with the question: what is “ordinary”?