Four men, two clocks and all possible relationship dynamics meet within different moments, in one bed. Scenes bounce back and forth across time supported by symbolic projections and lighting, each one intimately presenting a different couple combination. Individuals meet and connect for a brief moment in time, then inevitably move on. La Montanya’s Perfect Lovers is a new play that explores the ups, downs and transience of gay relationships, proving they are no different than straight ones. We all seek that perfect relationship even though no such thing exists.
This is the second play by Jazz Martinez-Gamboa. It episodically documents the dysfunctional but well-intentioned connections of four characters at different points in their lives. There was some detailed writing with good instinct for both comedy and pathos. After the first couple of scenes the rhythm settled into a consistency that needed more variation, but the director and actors could solve this easily through delivery. The script is a one act, but its current structure lends itself to easy expansion. It would need more of a plot arc to add variation of pace, and the characters are robust enough to withstand closer examination of their lives.
The performances are generally good, though energy and pace dipped at points. There were too many pauses, though it isn’t clear whether this is due to the script or the direction. Actors Chris Hoskins, Oliver Hewett, Joe Leather and Craig Deucher are a tight ensemble with seemingly natural chemistry. They contrast each other without playing to any particular gay stereotypes; instead they focused on individual loneliness and their characters’ need for meaningful connection.
The design is excellent. Richard Hillier’s lighting design blends seamlessly with Alex Wells’ projections. Two adjacent, synchronised clocks racing through time are a motif influenced by artist Felix Gonzalez Torres, emphasising our own transience as well as the temporary nature of our bonds with others. Characters cling to digital photo albums of their past lovers, friends and families as they continue to search for that perfect man who will change their lives forever. The set is a never-changing bed. An adjacent nightstand becomes more and more cluttered with the characters’ detritus ranging from tea lights ,to cups of tea, to lines of cocaine. The amount of action the room sees results in a set resembling Tracy Emin’s My Bed.
Even though this production can be categorised as LGBT theatre, that is far from its end message, merely a vehicle of communication. These characters could have been straight couples; in fact, it has strong parallels with Patrick Marber’s Closer though without a linear narrative. We are all people: broken, malfunctioning people, who reach for meaning in one another. It rarely works. But that’s what makes us gloriously human, which Martinez-Gamboa presents to audiences as if he stands before us and holds up a mirror.
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