We all know how it goes – you put a dysfunctional group of family and friends in a room until they all tell their life story, fight, hate each other, and then eventually resolve their problems. It’s a common play type, and NUTS’ latest show Infidelity and Enlightenment nails the style, with influences Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, August: Osage County and the middle-class family dramedies of Sydney Theatre Company evident throughout.
Sam (Emma Gillespie) is a married high school English teacher. Her sexual frustration and marital neglect led to an affair with Milo (Aaresh Madon), one of her Year 12 students (but it’s like, totally not her fault). Her attempt at breaking it off goes wrong – Milo goes over to Sam’s and unbeknownst to him his girlfriend Jessica (Helen Wang) follows. Sam’s husband, Harry (Matthew Pritchard) also arrives home, just in time for a cute lil quasi-family reunion.
The play, written by UNSW Performance Studies alumni Lauren Bonner, is witty and full of hilarious one liners. Tropes like the neglected house wife, the annoying ex-girlfriend and the immature teenage lover are handled with skill. The characters tread the fine line between comedic caricatures and believable humans. The script of the one hour and one-act show ensures that the pace never lags. The set design, by Veronica Barac and Isobel Sanby is aesthetically pleasing, with Studio One covered in a baby pink paint job that screams mundane domesticity.
The show is extremely well cast as every performer nails the comedic quirks of their role. Gillespie is a comedic force as Sam, and carries the show with her ability to be both funny and serious in alternating moments. Madon’s earnest schoolboy is hilarious in his desperate attempts to seduce Sam. Pritchard owns the middle-aged comic-relief husband role and Wang brings vulnerability to what could be a thankless ex-girlfriend stereotype.
It’s a laugh-a-minute satire about relationships, commitment and the pitfalls of married life. It’s one of the funniest plays I’ve seen this year, and a guaranteed great night out.