Review: Tease

By Sydney Davies

transports us back into the sordid and unforgiving world of the 1960s American show business. Tease is a dark tale underscored by sexual assault.

The first thing noticed by the audience was the effective use of sound, overpowering music is played at the beginning which sets the ominous tone for the rest of the text. This contemporary music was an appropriate choice and the sounds that followed are accompanied by well-timed actions from the actors.

The set was minimalistic but homely and effectively creates a stifling atmosphere of tension and claustrophobia. The direction of and is brilliant, the actors were constantly both physically and mentally engaged with each other. A particular standout moment was Joe’s predatory stalking of Kitty, introducing us to his seedy characteristics. However, there was a set change halfway through the performance which seemed rather clunky and unnecessary, breaking the audience’s full immersion into the text and performance.

The direction of and is brilliant, the actors were constantly both physically and mentally engaged with each other

I was particularly impressed with the stylistic choices of the costume department; they effectively showed the ageing characters’ desperation to stay relevant to qualities of the younger characters such as Emily’s natural beauty and ease of appearance. The symmetry between Emily and Kitty’s dresses at the beginning presented Emily as an immediate threat before Emily changes into a hot pink dress which sees her initial portrayal of innocent admiration become a pursuit of uncomfortable seduction.

Kitty and Joe clearly had a fractured and unloving relationship which was transparently portrayed by and Maddie Clark. Clark plays Kitty with a sense of sickly confidence which erodes throughout the play into a desperate loneliness and her depiction of this desperation and anger at the end was so passionate and convincing it evoked clear pity from the audience. On the other hand, Joe’s unjustified sense of self-importance and entitlement made him an obvious villain from the very outset.

She also makes the stylistic choice to break the fourth wall which I found very effective at keeping the audience well-informed and engaged

I must also praise the casting of the two sisters ( and Eleanor Sumner), being both visually perfect and the tension between the two easily dissolved into a comfortable familiarity. Both actors should also receive praise for managing extremely well to remain in character following a technical glitch.

Despite the great seriousness of the subject matter, with references to sexual assault and rape, Glenister still manages to capture moments of light comedy through witty statements from characters in the show. She also makes the stylistic choice to break the fourth wall which I found very effective at keeping the audience well-informed and engaged. Her writing could sometimes appear cryptic but this only greatly heightened the audience’s desire to fully uncover the plot. Her writing was so effective it often caused audible reactions within the audience such as the collective gasp when Kitty’s affair with Stephen is smoothly uncovered.

Image credit: Charlotte Aspden, Suffragette Theatre Company

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