Robert Tanitch reviews The One at Soho Theatre, London W1
A middle class couple spend an evening listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera on stereo, watching porn on TV, having sex on the settee and eating Wotsits at the same time.
Vicky Jones’s debut play, The One, first seen in 2014 and re-directed by Steve Marmion, is in one-act and ten abrasive short scenes. It lasts just 75 minutes and is perfect for the #MeToo generation.
If you have seen Jones’s other plays, Fleabag and Touch, you will know what you are in for.
29-year-old Jo (Tuppence Middleton) and Harry (John Hopkins), an academic, ten years her senior, have a mutually destructive relationship, which relies on lust, dirty games, domestic violence and humiliation.
They savage each other verbally and physically. Middleton and Hopkins work so well together it is easy to imagine them in a play by Strindberg, especially when Jo viciously lists all of Harry’s faults and later lies to him in such a despicable manner that the audience gasped out loud.
Harry’s former lover (Julie Sandford), drops in to say she has been raped by her long-term partner. She defines rape as having sex when she didn’t want to have sex and he knowing she didn’t want her to have sex.
Jo likes it rough and strong. She wants to be dominated but she hates the loss of power.
Does Jo want to be hit? Does she want to be raped? Or does she want to play out a rape fantasy? Is she really asking Harry to be sexually violent with her against her will?
What should Jo and Harry do? Should they split up and find another partner or go to the British Museum and have a picnic in the park?
NB. The One ends on Saturday 25 August.