Theatre Review: London Street Sauna, 16 January

16 Jan

This is the first review on the blog, London Street Sauna at the Traverse, though I almost don’t know if I should be reviewing it…

This wasn’t a play as such. Instead it was a reading of a script for a potential play, hosted by Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre. Bereft of the usual trappings of your common or garden production – scenery, music, lighting and stage directions – this was a pared down performance by three young actors that told a simple story of boy-meets-girl-meets-girl.

Sam Holcroft’s new script is an exploration of love and the prejudices that surround us. Saul (Neil Leiper) is a 17-year-old schoolboy who’s fallen in love with a prostitute, Hailey (Helen Mallon). Throwing a spanner in the works of this budding relationship (a bargain at £60 an hour) is Saul’s sister, Gemma (Ashley Smith) who provides the cash that is funding this “love affair”.

While the initial revelation of Saul and Hailey’s affair is well handled – there are fine performances in the opening scenes, especially from Smith who moves swiftly from sisterly to motherly and back – the subsequent narrative jump which leads the play off in a new direction is perhaps left under explained, as if a scene was excised that led Gemma to all those doorbells.

Still, this is a minor quibble about a piece that merits further development for the stage. In particular, Saul’s attempt to write the perfect poem is a comedy gem that has real heart.

Here’s hoping London Street Sauna appears again at the Traverse, replete with the same cast: they at least deserve some real noodles to chew if not some genuine scenery.

Read the London Street Sauna preview.


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