Tuesday, February 7, 2012


In Stefan Golaszewski’s Sex with A Stranger we’re dropped right into the post-club conversation between Grace (Jaime Winstone) and Adam (Russell Tovey) as they both awkwardly try to summon interesting things to say whilst waiting for the bus that’ll deliver them to Grace’s bedroom.”That club was really good, wasn’t it?”; “I actually like buses”; “I wouldn’t want to be too famous” – these are the nuggets you will variously laugh and cringe at as the pair make their journey via bus, taxi and foot. Meanwhile the chronology is shuffled to give us a better picture of who these people are – and particularly in Adam’s case – where they come from.
The dialogue given by the central pair comes off hilariously vacuous yet somehow you don’t judge them too harshly for it. These two have nothing in common but the desire to shag, yet must spend an hour or more together en route – what else do they have to talk about but Homebase? It must be said that the attention to detail in this regard is brilliant – all conversations throughout are invaded by tedious observations about brands from Coca-Cola to Sainsbury’s between characters that sadly – and quite comically – share no spark.
There are a lot of quick edits onstage, perhaps inspired by film, that while admittedly interestingly do work much better and less awkwardly in film. Further there are three scenes that focus on one character onstage for a notably elongated period, which, with the exception of the last, labour the point and add little.
Having dominated for much of the first half of the production it is a pity that Winstone is so absent in the second, apart from one difficult-to-place wedding scene and a spot of pre-going out hair-teasing. Not only is she missed for the laughs she provided earlier but this imbalance doesn’t allow Grace’s character to develop in quite the same way Adam’s does.
The remainder of the play goes to Adam and his partner, Ruth (Naomi Sheldon), who is shown at home earlier that day making Adam’s lunch and preparing the shirt that will see him later pull Grace. Initially an irritatingly one-dimensional character, Ruth blossoms as the play continues to a fully-realised, very convincing type of person, worried by and withering in a relationship that is no good for her. Without entirely diminishing the feelings of pity you might have for Adam – he’s not happy either – you leave feeling pretty strongly that he’s been too cruel to Ruth.
But in the end the play diverts too much attention from Grace at its own cost.

GrabbersMovie: @RawBeard And @russelltovey is brilliant in it.
mrchrissullivan: 4 out 5 stars GB @russelltovey  x 
russell tovey
russelltovey: RT @FuelPublishing: New Russian Criminal Tattoo exhibition announced.
russell tovey
russelltovey: RT @TeleTheatre: Sex with a Stranger, Trafalgar Studios, review http://t.co/syHX9mn5  #Stefan_Golaszewski
Bayonnaise: Just passed Russell Tovey on Goodge Street. Ears smaller than they look on TV.

Tom In Oz ✔
Tom_In_Oz_: @Abslom_Deek sadly you have lost me but it ain't because of Tovey leaving - it's the shocking script and poor plotting of characters. I left a comment at BBC Being Human Blog No.325
Derek Ritchie
Abslom_Deek: @Tom_In_Oz_ Very disappointed to hear that, though Ep1 was trying to do many things. Give the more settled Ep2 a go before you write it off.
Tom In Oz ✔
Tom_In_Oz_: @Abslom_Deek the new ppl are now on a diff journey to the original cast it doesn't link with anything you can relate to and I can't understand 'Tom' at times with his accent! BTW the baby was amazing in last week's ep! But got no credit!
Derek Ritchie
Abslom_Deek: @Tom_In_Oz_ Babies were great! But technically supporting artistes so no credit! Give the new guys time to settle - their journey’s not begun!

Lip-curling Eve steals scene in drama that has lost its bite
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Leicester Mercury

It takes true talent to steal a scene when you're sharing the screen with a ghost, a dying werewolf and a vampire dressed like a wise man in a nativity play. But Eve managed it on Being Human (9pm, BBC3). As Russell Tovey jerked and spasmed his way through the hammiest death scene on TV in yonks, still finding the breath for a schmaltzy few words of farewell, Eve curled her lip in disdain.
It was a mute gesture, but she spoke for us all. I don't know Eve's real name, by the way. She didn't get a credit at the end. Perhaps that's because she'd spoiled the big finale. Or perhaps it was because she's a baby.
Being Human, for those of you who have never seen it, is the story of a ghost, a werewolf and a vampire, all sharing a house and trying to blend in unnoticed with the normal world around.
And if you have never seen it, it's probably not worth starting now.
The first part of series four was messier than a teenage pig's sty: hard enough to follow if you've watched from the beginning; nigh-on impossible if you're new.
Having already killed off original vampire Mitchell at the end of the last series, and mislaid werewolf Nina somewhere before the start of this one, Being Human has now lost Tovey's happy-go-lucky George too.
Which only leaves Annie the ghost from the original cast.
"I don't know what we are now," she sighed, halfway through episode one.
Happy to help, Annie: You're the Sugababes of TV. Same name, completely different line-up.
In itself, that isn't enough to sink the show. But on this evidence at least, BBC3's flagship drama has lost its way, and much of its appeal to boot.
Like Misfits on E4, the pleasure of Being Human came in its very British take on a very American genre.
Writer Toby Whithouse was almost as concerned with the domestic drudge of a bunch of twentysomethings sharing a house as he was with all that full moon and neck-biting business.
But this episode, which was riddled with standard-issue supernatural guff about the Old Ones returning, plus some sub-Terminator nonsense about the future, the resistance and suchlike, had none of the humour and fizz of before.
It was tosh, and flatter than last week's Tizer.
"So this is how it starts," said Annie, after George had finally finished his flamboyant death throes. For me, I think that's where it ends.

  Joe Stone
Joe_Stone_: Heard a rumour that Russell Tovey likes to sunbathe naked by the men’s pond at Hampstead Heath. That’s summer sorted then.
russell tovey
russelltovey: http://t.co/G3jtPMuQ Happy :-) x
kentonallen: @russelltovey You should be. Loved it! x
H_Woolfenden: Can't wait to see the lovely @russelltovey in Sex With A Stranger! Hope you had a fab opening night Russell. x londontheatre.co.uk
russell tovey
russelltovey: @H_Woolfenden :-) x
russell tovey
russelltovey: RT @theinvisibledot: ID 114: SEX WITH A STRANGER. Four stars in the Evening Standard http://t.co/ytCBZTTm @russelltovey @NaomiSheldon1 #sexwithastranger
SuiteTV: @russelltovey following me tweeting you the other day I got plenty of retweets and new followers! Your like the Suite TV Jesus! x
russell tovey
russelltovey: @SuiteTV :-) x

Alistair Nichols
AlistairNichols: @russelltovey congrats on the great review. X

russell tovey

russelltovey: @AlistairNichols :-) x

Sex with a Stranger, review
Sex with a Stranger at Trafalgar Studios, starring Russell Tovey and Jaime Winstone, is a perceptive study of a failing relationship.
One of the great consolations of middle age is that you don’t have to go to discos, or “clubbing” as this vile activity is now more glamorously called. I count the nights I spent at Cinderella Rockerfellas in my distant youth, trying in vain to persuade girls to dance with me, as among the loneliest and most humiliating of my life. And all the horror came flooding back watching Stefan Golaszewski’s Sex with a Stranger - though his hero, initially at any rate, seems to have got lucky.
Golaszewski is best known for his BBC3 sitcom Him and Her but he is also a fine writer for theatre and his monologues about first love and love in old age which he delivered himself at the Bush Theatre a couple of years ago struck me as wonderfully frank, true and tender.
In this new piece, featuring Russell Tovey, one of Alan Bennett’s original History Boys and the male star of Him and Her, as well as the fast-rising film actress Jaime Winstone (daughter of Ray), he focuses on a trio of characters in their twenties, and memorably captures the humiliations of lust and the painful inequality of love.
In the early scenes we watch as Adam cops off with Grace after a night of dancing. There’s a lot of snogging and awkward conversation as they make their slow way back to her place on the night bus, but the encounter proves far from blissful, and the emptiness of their lives is painfully caught.
But in later scenes we discover that Adam has been playing away. He has a live-in girlfriend, Ruth, who we see lovingly ironing his shirt in preparation for the night out with his mates which ends with his infidelity.
It’s a moment that is clearly a homage to Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, but also extraordinarily touching in its own right. Golaszewski’s movingly captures the moment when shared affection decays into suspicion, frustration, dishonesty and grief.
Tovey powerfully captures the duplicity and unease of the philandering Adam, Jaime Winstone poignantly suggests the vulnerability and anxiety that underlie Grace’s brassy Essex Girl persona, and Naomi Sheldon pierces the heart as the woman left alone at home who comes to learn that her love is unreturned.
The play is artistically subtle, with its clever, non-linear time scheme, and the director Philip Breen and his outstanding cast skilfully lay bare the deeper feelings that underlie the apparently banal surface of the dialogue. There is a sense of ice at this play’s heart, and one leaves it with a shiver.

Sex With a Stranger, Trafalgar Studios - review
Russell Tovey has won an army of fans as the werewolf George in Being Human and Jaime Winstone is a sparky performer who's made a strong impression in the TV zombie drama Dead Set and films such as Kidulthood. In this new play from Stefan Golaszewski, best-known for his BBC3 sitcom Him & Her (which stars Tovey), they combine arrestingly.
Tovey and Winstone are Adam and Grace, who meet in a club. Adam invites her outside, cheesily saying he's got something he wants to show her, and they make their way back to Grace's for what threatens to be an awkward one-night stand.
Adam trots out relentlessly banal conversation. Grace laughs too much and rummages through her handbag. We see them snogging in the street and plotting a fumble in the back of a cab. There is a painful familiarity in their meandering chat and moments of ineptitude. Even when they cut loose, helped along by tequila shots, there's a mix of excitement and toe-curling ungainliness.
Adam kisses Grace as if he's trying to eat an apple off the branch. Grace struggles with her outfit, and later, because she doesn't like being seen in her underwear, insists on making out with the lights off.
All of this is amusing, but things take a nastier turn as we learn the context for Adam's night with Grace. He is stuck in a dull relationship with neurotic musician Ruth.
She's the sort of woman who enjoys discussing bookshelves and explodes when someone joins the wrong queue at the supermarket. A night away from her, partying with friends, is an escape route for Adam.
Tovey does a nice job of conveying both Adam's geniality and the frustration that makes him stray.
He's especially powerful in a scene where he berates Ruth for being paranoid about his eyeing up other women. As Grace, Winstone is adept at suggesting the nuances of embarrassment; her timing is spot-on. And Naomi Sheldon perfectly evokes Ruth's vulnerability.
There's a risk that a piece so concerned with the ordinary could lapse into flatness. But Golaszewki's writing has teeth; although the material is slight, it's eerily well observed and shrewdly woven together.
Phillip Breen's intimate production is absorbing and the committed performances make this a satisfying, unsettling experience.
Until February 25, 2012

Sex With a Stranger - review
Not exactly what it says on the tin, Stefan Golaszewski’s skilfully constructed, painful-to-watch but very funny three-hander in the smaller of the Trafalgar Studios is a story of double-talk, a boys’ night out and a marriage turning slightly stale.
Working backwards from a night on the tiles where, after some serious clubbing, Russell Tovey’s married Adam is heading for instant sex in the park, and her flat, with Jaime Winstone’s amazing Grace (well, she lives five minutes from Homebase), the play unpicks the story behind Adam’s newly ironed shirt.
Meanwhile, Grace is “doing” her face and hair to hit the scene. The spare, minimal writing makes Harold Pinter look like Ronald Firbank. Some scenes are ten seconds long. Tentative chat-up is contrasted, like bright pins, with the wary notes of deceit as Adam wangles his night out from Naomi Sheldon’s doe-eyed, devoted Ruth. Ruth plays violin in an orchestra (one scene shows Adam slumped at the concert, the night after his outing). Even more surprisingly, we suddenly see Grace making a thank-you speech at her own wedding: is she married, too, and to the unseen “friend” she flat-shares with?
We are somewhere in Essex, near darkest Leytonstone. Adam is in sales, with ambitions in social media, Grace in recruitment. Adam was at college with Ruth, and there’s a sense in which he’s returning to his atavistic roots with Grace.
Tovey conveys, with the slightest of looks and gestures, an admiration for Grace’s unaffected bone-headedness, mixed with raw sex appeal, a refreshing change, perhaps, from Ruth’s eager niceness on a date in Pizza Express, and around the house, which she keeps very tidy.
Golaszewski, who writes BBC3’s Him & Her, made waves two or three years ago with his white-suited solo performances at the Traverse and the Bush. He’s a talent on the move, and his director Philip Breen has served up this play with real flair and deftness.
The acting of all three performers is unbeatable, perfectly pitched and nuanced in the tiny space, and while Tovey and Winstone are brilliant at falling guiltily and nervously into their tryst, Sheldon’s projection of misplaced trust and innate goodness becomes almost heart-breaking as she settles down on the sofa, betrayed and bookish.

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