Saturday, January 28

Changing The Sheets – Assembly Rooms

A long thin room with raked seating to both sides cascades to a bare stage with two floor-mounted LED multi-coloured strip lights. These are the sheets (of light) between which the two actors, Adam and Eve, if you will, play out the age-old mating ritual. In this retelling it is Adam who bites the apple and Eve who kicks him out of Eden (her dad’s flat).

For those of us of a certain age, think When Harry Meets Sally meets Groundhog Day. Or, if you have never heard of these classics (Oh dear!) maybe think Normal People meets Lena Dunham’s Girls. Let’s just say there is a lot of ooing and ahhing on stage. This is intimacy without the mess (thank god!) In a show which is light on production, not a Par Cam or Birdie in sight, my hope is that the script and acting are on point. Happily, I am not disappointed.

You should apparently change your sheets weekly. This is because your sheets can accumulate a lot of stuff you can’t see: thousands of dead skin cells, dust mites and even faecal matter. Good to know. But should you change your sexual partner at the same rate? This is the central question in this entertaining no-holds-barred tale.

Photo: Daragh Cogley

Harry Butler and Mairead Tyers are excellent and are able to relax into their roles right from the off. Nerves, if they had any, appearing in front of a fifty-strong audience, are after all part of the script. Who would not be a little nervous in the early stages of a would-be relationship. And with this particular tarantulan female, consumption is a distinct possibility.

From the first encounter, it is clear who wears the trousers. After a somewhat underwhelming performance by Butler (it’s been a while he mumbles apologetically), he is told in no uncertain terms that, ‘you can just go the way you came in’. Charming.

Later, in a perhaps to be iconic line Tyers complains, ‘don’t compare my vagina to lasagne’. In any other lilt this could come across as crass, but in the soft Southern Irish tones here, you can get away with anything. And it is this, ‘anything goes’ attitude which is the real charm of this piece. Played with honesty and sincerity, this is a look behind and under the sheets of a modern day romance, to see what is ‘in’ and what the young people are thinking.

In something of a role reversal, it is the male here who wants the security of a singular relationship and complains that the ‘just sex thing is pointless’, only to be rebuked for being ‘such a child’.

Also touching on issues of eating disorders, drugs and self-harming, points to the fact that this particular generation have their work cut out to make sense of relationships, sex and commitment.

In a touching final scene, the bodies of male and female finally come together, brightly lit in a fusion blast, the image burnt on to your retina in the final darkness. Maybe they do have a Par Cam up there after all!

Running time – 60 mins. Playing until 28th August, further information and tickets can be found HERE.

Reviewer: Greg Holstead

Reviewed: 14th August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★