Dan Horrigan’s bleak drama Unrelated, which opened this week at The Drayton Theatre, South Kensington, doesn’t beat around the bush in revealing the fallout from a pretty horrendous crime.
This four-hander takes a while to get into its stride but before long we’re seeing a string of victims, and their suffering, as the result of the murder of a prostitute.
At the heart of the story is a sorry-looking couple, both teachers, who not only fail to understand their own feelings but also those of their spouse. Their fall from grace is spectacular. Both ill-prepared for what they are about to endure.
Annie clutches to the hope that everything will be fine and dandy when her husband is released from prison. She finds endless excuses to forgive Martin’s indiscretions. She longs for intimacy and possibly a child with her husband. Instead she’s left isolated and confused by his coldness.
She spends most of the drama opening up to a rather well-dressed journalist called Rachel.
Cut to her husband, the rather sleazy Martin. He’s a pathetic specimen of humanity who can only get his thrills with a succession of prostitutes, usually in his steamed-up car, or with one special call-girl, a single mother, equally damaged, called Jean.
Unrelated is described in its promotional material as darkly comic but there’s little to laugh about, with the exception of a few unintentional guffaws.
But it’s none the worse for losing the chuckles, if they were ever there. Instead it’s a fascinating insight into the anatomy of murder, exposing the pain and suffering of all sorts of people who are linked by a common tragedy.
Taniel Yusef makes a captivating Jean, a woman outwardly in control of her shabby life, but the ultimate victim, willingly used and abused by her clients. She spends most of the production dressed in a skimpy basque offering sex and sympathy to Martin and she does it remarkably convincingly.
Tom Futerill’s Martin is a bit of a stereotype, and is sketched out rather than finely drawn, but sitting close to the character, in the intimate setting of The Drayton Theatre, can be unsettling as you listen to dialogue that, at times, makes your flesh creep.
There are moments when Horrigan tries to be a little too clever, throwing in contrived twists and turns, but overall, it’s a study of domestic darkness that’s thought-provoking and well acted.
Unrelated runs until October 26. For tickets and info go to www.draytontheatre.co.uk or call 020 7835 2301.