‘It doesn’t sit with my feminism.’
If I had a penny.
Are you’re worried you’re alone?
You’re not alone.
Miles – TOUCH
Old enough to know better, young enough not to care. That’s actually the tagline from a movie, but it pretty much sums what it is like for many people nowadays who supposedly act 10 years younger than their actual age. If everyone is putting off ‘getting older’, when is it time to ‘start behaving responsibly’? Vicky Jones, who is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Drywrite, premiered The One – her first play as a writer – at Soho Theatre in 2013. Her latest production as writer/director also premieres at Soho Theatre, about a woman in her 30s from Swansea moving to London. Jones was also the director of the original production of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, which of course has reached wide recogniton via the BBC TV series. At the vanguard of female-centric narratives, Fleabag sets a high benchmark for others to follow. So how does Touch fare in comparison?
Well for a start, the initial premise is very different. Most people who first move to London do so shortly after university, if they’re not in the Capital already. Spending one’s 20s in London allows all manner of experiences early on, plus the opportunity to progress to better jobs and better accomodation. Dee, as played by Amy Morgan, is 33 and just moved to London for a job. With no friends or social network in London, Dee is eager to meet new people and try different things. But why come to London now, not 10+ years ago? Officially it is because of the job, but the life she left behind in Swansea might hold a clue…
The revolving square set which represent’s Dee’s bijou bedsit is a marvel of economy. The first thing that all of Dee’s visitors comment on is how something so small could be so cluttered and messy. While not exactly going down Bridget Jones territory, the menfolk in her life all cater to ‘a different itch she wants to scratch’ – some as potential partners, others as purely a physical fling.
Dee does have two relationships that simultaneous accept and challenge her simultaneously. The first is with Miles (James Clyde) who initially appears to hold opinionated, right-leaning views. However, his candid, provacative outlook prompts Dee to challenge him and for the first time in the play, we see a more serious side to her – something of her politics and proof that Dee believes there’s more to life than having a good time. In any event, time with Miles does prove to be quite instructive for Dee…
However, in terms of ‘opening her eyes’ – as well as being her confidante and the only other female character in the play – Vera (Naana Agyei-Ampadu) is the most fun and supportive person in Dee’s life. But for Vera who is 100% gay, being an occasion ‘f***-buddy’ is painful for her, as Dee spends the majority of her time with the men in her life who (on the surface at least) are questionable. It’s evident by the end of the play that the tidier flat is a metaphor for Dee having a better idea of what she wants out of life, but it is by no means set in stone…
While on the surface Touch is a play about the choices women have, indirectly it is about society’s expectations of women – how much should they drink, their sexual tastes, the way they let men treat them and their own measure of self-respect. It is Vera who brings this into focus, giving Dee food for thought.
© Michael Davis 2017
Touch runs at Soho Theatre until Sat 26 Aug 2017, evenings 7.15pm, matinees 3pm