Open Heart Surgery   **

Theatre

Sweet Holyrood    (V94)   

18.15

August 4th to 13th

 

 

This is a production by LIP Theatre Company of Dundee University, and therefore it would be unfair to apply the standards that would be expected of a professional theatre company. However, as a gay man who has spent many years in the movement and who has worked as a counsellor and hypnotherapist, there were a number of levels at which I felt disappointed by this play.

We were told in publicity material beforehand that the counsellor was conservative in sexual matters and took on a gay couple because her appointments book was empty. If we had not read this information before we might well have spent much of the play thinking her husband was the only problem. And problem it seems he was.

Yet the big problem  lay in the often uninspired text–  the most vivid part of the script related to Sandra’s nightmarish childhood memory which informs her attitude to gay men.. (Maybe a separate play about the analysis of Sandra would be interesting.)  The exchanges  between husband a wife and between clients and counsellor are often perfunctory. We learn something of the background to the five year relationship of the couple via a flashback to a scene where doctor Will’s sister sees his attraction to performer Leo and acts as go-between. However, big changes happen very quickly, and especially in the final section of the play the essential changes in the characters do not seem to be earned dramatically.

For a play of 55 minutes there are a large number of characters and problems, with those of counsellor Sandra as well as those of Will and Leo. It would probably have been better to concentrate on the Sandra-Leo-Will situation in depth rather than adding in Sandra’s past and her  marriage problems.

The commitment of the cast cannot be denied, and the subject of communication and sustainability within gay relationships is an important one. But I regret I cannot hide my disappointment.

 

Tony Challis