Punts is a one act play about issues of sex and disability that is handled with charm and humour. Excellent performances from the cast are supported by strong direction and effective design.
Everyone with a good heart deserves to get laid, don’t they? To be touched, to be held, to be kissed, to experience a fucking orgasm. Or you’re living a life in black and white, aren’t you?
Punts is about sex, but at its heart are the decisions that parents make for their children and the consequences that follow. This new work is written by Sarah Page and is enjoying a season at Theatre 503. Last year the play was included in the Vibrant 2016 Festival for playwrights.
The high quality of writing is evident from the opening scenes. The exposition of characters and the situation is fast and clean. Nuances of the narrative are often created in what’s left unsaid, hanging in the air, as much as what is spoken. Punts flows along with only the slightest slackening of pace to create tension whilst meandering around the point.
The decision that Jack’s parents make for him is to bring a sex worker into their house to ‘fix’ the problem of his continuing virgin status. Jack has been mentally affected with a mild learning disability from lack of oxygen in the womb. He finds it difficult to relate to new people and Julia, the sex worker, helps him.
Jack is played by Christopher Adams with sympathy and a refined skill. Adams commits to the role and delivers a very real character. His scenes with Julia, played by a suitably attractive Florence Roberts, are a delightful mix of humour and awkwardness.
In the scenes with Jack, particularly, Roberts delivers a charming and believable Julia. In the later scene with the father, Alistair, her character is less clear amongst the many twists and turns of the narrative when hitherto hidden facets of her character are revealed.
Alistair is beautifully played by Graham O’Mara. He skillfully handles the device of unsaid words and engages the audience in his dance between Alistair’s reality and fantasies.
The role of the mother, Antonia, comes off as the least sympathetic of the four characters. Has the mother overstepped the bounds of maternal interest? Has she made the wrong decision for her son and ultimately, even initially, for herself and her family? Every member of the audience will relate to her plight at some level.
Clare Lawrence-Moody is the mother. She opens the play and within two scenes has delivered the essence of her character. Lawrence-Moody’s best scenes are with the husband. She shows a good feel for comedy in the fantasy scene whilst still allowing Antonia to be vulnerable.
The direction of Jessica Edwards has facilitated a play of depth and warmth with intelligent use of space and movement. She has ensured that desire and hope percolates through to the end.
Design by Amelia Jane Hankin is simple. The space is defined by a line of lighting in the shape of a room with a bay window. The light changes colour as the room shifts from being Jack’s room and the kitchen. The moving set pieces are slightly cumbersome but space is limited. Dramatic lighting effects puntuate the play from beginning to end and Dan Saggars has designed the lighting to be in sympathy with the action.
Punts is a one act play about issues of sex and disability which are handled with charm and humour. Through stages of awkwardness, desire and struggle the play emerges at a point of hope for all of its protaganists.