Taboo Review – New Theatre – Review by Emily Elphinstone
It may seem unoriginal to present a show about a dating just after Valentines Day, but dark comedy Taboo is by no means your average romance. Set in a single room, the play follows the first date of Tom (John Morton) and Lily (Lisa Fox). They have wine, they chat, there’s a three course meal. Apart from some over-interest in air freshener, and how clean Tom’s shoes are; things start out relatively well. But over the course of the evening, far more skeletons come out of the closet than are socially acceptable for a first date, and we quickly discover that not everyone’s ‘normal’ is the same thing.
With the evening playing out in real time in a single, wonderfully intimate setting, Taboo has some of the intensity of a Greek tragedy, but with significantly more humour. The ingenious device of an on-stage three course meal allows the audience to really observe the characters, and though the play takes time to build, it never loses momentum.
The central performances by Morton and Fox are brilliantly nuanced; communicating as much to the audience with their expressions, as they do through dialogue. It cannot be underestimated how fascinating it is to watch characters performing everyday tasks in front of each other for the first time; particularly after the frenetic opening scene in which Lily ‘rehearses’ the evening, as she hopes it will play out. Morton’s script is by turns hilarious, and heart wrenching; and there is a good balance of well-observed naturalism and heightened drama, which avoids becoming too sensationalist.
There may have been a few minor technical issues on the night; but the entire production, directed by Sarah Baxter, is a wonderfully cohesive, and thought provoking piece. Though the humour is most certainly dark, the enduring mood is surprisingly uplifting; so despite all those skeletons, you may even leave with a smile on your lips.