Wendy Hoose, Soho Theatre

Laura is a single mum who just wants a shag. Jake is also a fan of no strings attached sex. When the two match on Tinder and he cabs it over to her east Glasgow neighbourhood, things start out swimmingly, if a bit awkward. When Jake discovers that Laura doesn’t have legs, his open minded intentions go out the window and both end up surprised by the evening’s evolution. A production that champions inclusive theatre, Birds of Paradise’s Wendy Hoose uses surtitles, audio description and signing as well as Johnny McKnight’s humour-laden script to remind us that different body types still very much want the same things and are just as lost as each other in both real and online worlds. McKnight’s sharp, witty dialogue and performances that evoke plenty of belly laughs make this an excellent, if a bit sentimental, example of integrated, inclusive theatre that goes below the surface of a body to discover what makes us modern human beings.

James Young is the nervous, self-conscious Jake desperately wanting to impress self-assured Laura (Amy Conachan). Personified by a bulging erection in colourful pants, he’s a great contrast to Laura’s black neglige and red satin bedding. Jake’s struggle to be PC when put off by the lack of thighs below her torso fantastically convinces, and is a pointed manifestation of a society that refuses to consider disabled people as sexual beings. Laura’s sarcastic, biting responses are excellently timed and show she’s no stranger to such treatment. Young and Conachan showcase their consistently great chemistry and presence through spiky tension and believable affection. 

Jake’s ensuing education due to a late taxi, whilst sweet and following a smooth progression, feels rushed and unrealistic, though. An hour isn’t long enough to change deep seated, unconscious prejudice and sexual attraction. This is a small issue dwarfed by plenty of other positives. What is most effective are the themes that extend beyond disability issues. Female objectification, societal standards of attractiveness and disparity between online and real life are just as prominent as Laura’s lack of legs and generate self-reflection on casual sex behaviour and what an individual finds sexy. The humour softens the initial impact of these topics, but they’re the lingering memories and provocations from the play.

Projection design and the audio describer’s snarky personality add additional levels of comedy, becoming semi-characters in their own right and breaking up this text-based script. McKnight’s banter and Conachan and Young’s work are the immediate appeal, but the weight behind the dialogue lasts well beyond Wendy Hoose’s curtain call. 

Wendy Hoose runs through 7 May.

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