Wendy Hoose, the first collaboration between Random Accomplice and Birds of Paradise, certainly comes with plenty of pre-show warnings; all this talk of strong language and scenes of a sexual nature is enough to set anyone’s heart a-racing. Though advertised as a sex-comedy, it asks some deeper questions – what are the rules of courtship in the digital age? With apps like Tinder and Grindr, what is the new dating dialogue – or have the flutterings of flirting been deserted entirely in favour of instant gratification?
Laura (Amy Conachan) and Jake (James Young) are two twenty-somethings looking for the same thing: no-strings-attached, drunken, Friday night sex. The audience is privy to their entire fated encounter, from the awkward first moments right up until the moment of getting down to the deed. But the flames of passion are extinguished when Jake realises that not everything is quite as it initially seems. Laura wasn’t joking about being a short brunette – she has no legs.
Despite only being an hour long, there is a lot packed in to Johnny McKnight and Robert Softley Gale‘s production – cruel humour and cattiness sit well alongside more delicate moments of character exposition. For Conachan and Young, the awkwardness seems to flow naturally and Conachan in particular does a beautiful job of painting Laura as a real woman with needs, wants, desires and obligations, who’s not willing to be repressed by the ‘disabled’ label. Writer McKnight is the master of witty wordplay and Young delivers his painfully cruel rejections with perfect timing and zeal. All performances utilise audio description, BSL and animated surtitles, which add an extra level of narrative and character insight. At its heart, Wendy Hoose is an interesting exploration in to the parameters of no-frills dating, with some thoroughly enjoyable inappropriate gags to boot.