Tom & Jerry: A Love Story at The Drayton Arms
Tom & Jerry: A Love Story is part comedy and part drama – a fitting description for your average relationship. The two protagonists share their passage from first flirt to final fall out with honesty and warmth, in a way that most audiences can recognise in their own love stories.
Spliced by blackouts into four chapters, this two-man show fast forwards from gay bar to home to coffee shop, documenting the highlights and lowest lows of a relationship. Tom and Jed are chalk and cheese: one sensible and stoic, the other bubbly and erratic. Pearce Sampson’s Jed is childlike both in his optimism and in his melodrama; Denholm Spurr offsets him as calm, collected Tom. One can find aspects of oneself in both of them. But once their unlikely union is formed, how soon will it be until their differences unravel them?
The play sets off on an irksome note, employing excessive miming during a scene in the toilets of the bar (tap on, wash hands, tap off, check mirror, dry hands), which seems a little precious. Juxtapose this with a barrage of needless props in later scenes plus abandonment of the miming and it ends up with an inconsistent and confused style.
Writer Nick Myles’ characters swap between speaking to one another and then directly addressing the audience in asides. This works seamlessly at times, lending humour, but seems gratuitous and messy at others. Happily, the technique pulls back control with a well crafted double monologue, in which both men speak at length to the audience, giving their own point of view while occasionally overlapping. Here, Myles’ words shine, with touching reminiscences conjured in tender detail. Remembered “kitchen kisses” remind us of the bittersweet nostalgia of breakups.
The dynamics of the relationship start to shift as the play nears its end. Jed subverts his needy child role to try to care for Tom, while Tom teeters on an irrational moment. The scene questions the aspects of ourselves we put on when we’re with other people, particularly those we care about or depend on.
A believable story with some touching details, Tom & Jerry: A Love Story doesn’t, however, offer much that sets it apart from other relationship tales.
Tom & Jerry: A Love Story is on at The Drayton Arms Theatre until 17th November 2014, for further information or to book visit here.