Paradise in The Vault (Venue 29)
August 6-20 (not 8,9)
It’s 1975 and after the Swinging Sixties, the Sexual Revolution and Women’s Lib are well underway. But not alas, for recently married Lottie and Erik. After two years of marriage, we learn their sex life ranges from troubled and hesitant to non-existent. Not surprising, as Lottie admits, “sometimes when my husband touches me, I want to punch him”.
Erik, appropriately garbed in the fashionable too short trousers, pointy-toed shoes and kipper tie, is a take charge kind of guy. After yet another knock-back from Lottie, his frustration boils over and they agree Lottie needs to see a therapist.
As they go through the various stages of treatment, each character becomes damaged. Lottie, already shut -down and struggling to express herself, is rendered almost mute by the pressures on her to conform from her husband, therapist and family. Her husband, initially loving and sympathetic if frustrated, becomes rageful and threatening. The therapist, a doctor with an interest in the new and controversial field of sex therapy, turns on her patient when she fails to respond as she ought since she can see in Lottie’s eyes, she’s not a homosexual, that she wants to have sex with her husband.
We, in the audience, know why the “treatment” has failed and breathe a sigh of relief when Lottie finally refuses to continue with what is slowly becoming a horror story of mistreatment, ignorance and manipulation. The writer, however, has been even-handed and allowed each character to reveal the social expectations that were bearing down on them – the husband’s desire to be the normal couple they once were, his fear that no-one will marry him again once they find out; and the therapist whose professional reputation is at stake.
It’s a brave take on an old problem – this business of refusing to conform to the hetero-norm, and an important piece of social history based on a true story that has been dramatised by the young and capable cast of Georgie Murphy, Clara Davis and Silas Eliott and written by Jessy Parker Humphreys.