Rust (Bush Theatre Studio)

A play on monogamous extra-marital infidelity sounded interesting, and the poster art intriguing, so off I went to Shepherds Bush Market to visit this long-time fringe survivor (check out the posters of past productions which are displayed in the outside courtyard).

Poster image for Rust
Poster image for Rust

Rust starts with promise, an abstract set of piled-up pillows and vertically-hanging flourescent bulbs of various colours, and two characters we find out are Nadia (wife and mother) and Daniel (husband and father) discussing hard and soft limits of their physical attraction.

These thirty-somethings call themselves Mr and Mrs White to lease a flat, and every Monday they put their other lives aside to indulge their fantasy together of sex, 80s tunes, and rule-breaking.

Jon Foster as Daniel, Claire Lams as Nadia
Jon Foster as Daniel, Claire Lams as Nadia

Although I admired the performances of both Claire Lams and Jon Foster as( the couple trying to escape the normality of boredom, crime documentaries, takeaways and indifferent sex over a three-year period, I couldn’t warm to them.

There are some special moments in Kenny Emson’s play where the writing takes flight (a clock, a figure outside the window, a gift, a pillow fight), but I didn’t feel the tragedy and found Nadia ultimately shallow and selfish.

With a confusing and understated ending – I expected something more in the region of Last Tango in Paris or Oleanna, and felt a little frustrated that no explosion of violence came – Rust, for all its initial intrigue and earnest attempts to evoke the ennui of middle-aged surburban marriage, didn’t convince for me.

Claire Lams as Nadia
Claire Lams as Nadia

Eleanor Rhode directs with an eye for the best utlisation of the small space, with Max Johns and Jess Bernberg’s set and lighting design adding to the sense of passionate betrayal.

I just wanted something more subversive and challenging from the relationship on view, and that was never delivered.

Rust continues in the studio at the Bush Theatre until 27 July.

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