by Laura Kressly
There’s so much humanity in the seedy underbellies of cities that’s easily sneered at by the white middle classes. Yet sex workers and drug dealers, corrupt cops and pterodactyls in Che Walker’s LA prevent the city from becoming a sterile, corporate hell occupied solely by the rich.
In this City of Angels, dinosaurs appear from nowhere during orgasm, whether it’s with your partner or a fuck kept secret, given freely or paid for. The people we meet are generally thought of as unsavory types but here they are given the spotlight and some moments of stunning writing.
They too heavily draw on gendered stereotypes, and oppression of women, however. Some lines draw laughter from men and stony silence from women, and of the three female characters, one is a lap dancer and another is a prostitute. We never find out what the third one does, though she is defined by her relationships with men.
Sex as currency is a focal point in this story that’s more of a snapshot of moments in time rather than a narrative that feels like its own, complete world. There is some exploration of its power to liberate and give pleasure, but this is downplayed in favour of its weaponisation. Though truthful, it’s not particularly radical or interesting. The best parts are the moments where characters are given the chance to monologue on their rare, raw connections with other people and the ecstasy that gives them.
The cast are electric. Seeing Sheila Atim in such a small space is a privilege, but the rest of the actors are also excellent. Gabriel Akuwdike and Jessica Ledon as newly-reunited couple Blaz and Havana have a compelling chemistry wrought with sexual tension, lust and suspicion.
By the last ten minutes, the energy of the language and the characters’ burning need for meaningful relationships has set the place alight, but in a 90-minute production this is too slow of a burn. Walker’s ability to capture everyday humanity and elevate it to the heavens is apparent but the story progression needs some speeding up if it wants to more fully convey its truths.
Time is Love runs through26 January.
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