REVIEW: ‘Wendy Hoose’ at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff by Sam Pryce

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With Scottish Independence elbowing Page 3 girls and royal foetuses out of the newspapers, this steamy Scottish sex farce by Johnny McKnight seems an appropriate diversion. Birds of Paradise and Random Assembly have brought their box of tricks to the Sherman to test how Scot humour translates to the Welsh. And, in all honesty, there’s not that much of a difference.
The focus of Wendy Hoose covers two attractive, sexually frustrated 20-somethings – Laura and Jake – who decide a one night stand is in order after sexting over a hook-up app (undoubtedly Tinder). When Jake arrives, finding Laura’s door wide open, he sees the buxom lassie, ready and waiting, in bed. After some of Jake’s wince-worthy dirty talk and clumsy undressing, he begins to make his move. Once the duvet is peeled, however, he finds he’ll be getting a lot less than he bargained for. Jake decides to ring a taxi as soon as possible but a forty-five minute wait leaves him stranded. That wait turns out to be a remarkably enlightening one.
McKnight’s wildly filthy one-act breaks every taboo in sight. It is more ground-breaking though than purely destructive. The laughs come thick and fast and are made accessible to those both visually and aurally impaired. A sign language interpreter, an acerbic audio describer and some uncouth emoticons all compliment, enhance and satirise the action, despite occasionally upstaging it.
For such a bawdy, rib-tickling script, it requires a pair of actors with dazzling stage chemistry. James Young, as the brash but gawky Jake, brings us a common chauvinist crossed with a hopeless, stumbling romantic, winning the audience’s compassion as well as their uncomfortable sniggers. Amy Conachan, alluring and seductive, shows no reticence in her performance and boldly establishes that she has the upper hand when it comes to ‘getting one’s leg over’.
Two-handed plays have the tendency to be a dull affair, often merely focusing on the couple’s relationship and nothing else. However, armed with its ‘twist’, it explores themes both in and outside of the bedroom. It reveals harsh and clandestine truths on modern attitudes to body image, sexism and the difference between sex and love. Though the crass language and frank sexual content may shock some, what lies underneath is a sincere, candid portrait of our perception of others and ourselves.
Wendy Hoose is at the Sherman Theatre until 13th Sept 2014.

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