Theatre review: This Much (or An Act of Violence Towards the Institution of Marriage)
Theatre review: This Much (or An Act of Violence Towards the Institution of Marriage)

Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: This Much (or An Act of Violence Towards the Institution of Marriage), reviewed by The Scotsman’s Ben Walters. ★★★★ Gar (Lewis Hart) isn’t sure what he wants. His boyfriend Anthony (Simon Carroll-Jones) is the domestic type, nice but highly strung, while Albert (James Parris), the young guy Gar has been …

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Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: This Much (or An Act of Violence Towards the Institution of Marriage), reviewed by The Scotsman’s Ben Walters.

★★★★

Gar (Lewis Hart) isn’t sure what he wants. His boyfriend Anthony (Simon Carroll-Jones) is the domestic type, nice but highly strung, while Albert (James Parris), the young guy Gar has been chatting to online, is more spontaneous and transgressive. Security or fun – which should he choose? And why, being both thoughtful and passionate, should he have to?

Such dilemmas aren’t new to gay relationships but marriage equality has spotlit them as never before. However much the legal situation might improve, few LGBT people reach adulthood untraumatised by the experience of difference.

The psychological residues of those pressures to conceal and conform are hard enough to deal with, without also having to try to live up to one’s chosen political ideals – whether that means traditional marriage or something less conventional. The strength of this excellent play, written by John Fitzpatrick and directed by Kate Sagovsky under the Royal Court Writers Programme, lies in its rounded exploration of various perspectives through nuanced writing and performances that impress and surprise.

A few wordy speeches spell some of this out but for the most part, This Much expresses such complexities by showing, not telling. Its scenes chronologically cover a year or so during which Gar’s relationships with both men evolve. Will he and Anthony marry? Will their relationships with their families improve? Will Albert’s youth make him better equipped to navigate this new world? How important are sex, friendship, commodities?

Aptly, the play embraces fluidity in its form too: each actor is funny, appealing and alienating by turns and the set comprises domestic objects that are rearranged between scenes. There are also little freeform dance vignettes, interludes that grow towards a deeply moving climactic gesture. This Much will be provocative and stimulating to those who have first-hand experience of contemporary gay life, and perhaps revelatory to those who don’t.

Zoo (Venue 124) until 31 August / listings

Published in The Scotsman on 14 August 2015

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