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BWW Review: UNFAITHFUL, Found111, 31 August 2016

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First premiering at the Edinburgh Traverse two years ago, Owen McCafferty's play Unfaithful has a new cast and a new home at the Found111 on Charing Cross Road. Tom (Sean Campion), a plumber, and Joan (Niamh Cusack), a supervisory dinner lady, are a fiftysomething married couple who have been together for 30 years. One night Tom returns home, telling Joan he's slept with someone else - a young woman he met at the pub. Seeking revenge, Joan hires a male escort and meets him at the same hotel where her husband frequently drinks.

The frustration between the married couple is believable and Cusack magnificently portrays a woman hurt, betrayed and disgusted by her husband's behaviour. She tells him that she hates the way he breathes so much sometimes that she thinks about smothering him, while Tom stares at her dumfounded by her confession, later admitting that he can't even make a simple decision when it comes to choosing a sandwich in a shop.

The woman who Tom says he's slept with is Tara (Ruta Gedmintas), a young woman in her twenties who works in a supermarket on the checkouts and is also in a relationship with Peter (Matthew Lewis), the male escort Joan hires. The younger couple have their own problems: Tara accuses Peter of not telling her he loves her since he started as an escort, while we're left to wonder why Peter chose the path he did - it's something that's mentioned several times but is never properly explored. Both Tara and Peter act as minor players, catalysts for Joan and Tom to make up or break up.

The intimate setting of the Found111 is perfect for the hard-hitting piece, making the audience feel as if they're voyeurs watching in on two couples' extremely personal moments. The set is simple, made up of a bed and mirrored sliding wardrobe doors.

Director Adam Penford keeps the pace moving at a steady speed, and at 75 minutes without an interval, the production runs smoothly. Both Cusack and Campion excel in their roles, but I just wish more could have been made of Lewis and Gedmintas and their characters' relationship and backstory.

Image credit: Marc Brenner


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