The One at Soho Theatre
Over the course of one night, couple Jo and Harry play out dangerous games in their relationship, goading each other to say the unforgivable, pushing each other to the brink of disintegration. He was once her lecturer, and she the bright and promising student. Now their power struggles veer into perilous areas of rape fantasies and violence.
Third wheel Kerry turns up, a colleague of Harry’s, and seemingly a past ex, who declares herself “sort of raped” by her partner. How much will she push herself as the “nice one” in order to win Harry away from Jo? Is Harry and Jo’s relationship really fragile or is this level of dysfunction actually working for them?
It’s a short play at just over one hour, and if it sounds over serious, while it gets increasingly intense, it’s also wickedly funny, making the audience laugh despite themselves all the way through. The play raises issues and questions about the dynamics within relationships, dealing with layers of irony and the fact that some lovers bring out the worst in each other. It’s remarkable that this is Vicky Jones’ first play, and is the worthy winner of the Verity Bargate Award for the best new play by an emerging writer run by the Soho Theatre, which received over 900 entries. Assured and complete, it’s already a mature play.
Inventive theatrical devices indicate the passing of time – the characters pour bottles of wine away and turn the clock by hours. The cast create a feeling among them of having known each other for years and therefore best know how to hurt, but special mention must go to the riveting Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Jo, who manages to make her character bitchy, believable and sympathetic.
An intense, nasty, funny and sexual play, probably best avoided on a first date.
The One is at the Soho Theatre from 20th February until 30th March 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.