Review: Edging (Old Red Lion)

Henry (Harry Al-Adwani) is knocking at Marcus (Martin Coates)’s door, where the latter is having a late evening crafty wank.

It’s quickly established they were friends once, but haven’t stayed it touch, and the structure of the play in past and presents offers clues as to why.

Set in Marcus’s studio flat, functional but never aspirational, we watch a new friendship progress, where the uptight milk salesman who has never trusted enough to find a boyfriend rubs shoulders with the horny actor who seeks out women at every corner.

There are moments of genuine laughter around a carrot, a soft toy and the fate of a hamster (the second fringe show this summer to feature this small animal in a traumatic situation!).

Off-stage and on-screen sounds add to the drama while physical comedy and obvious camaraderie between the actors/co-writers keep the piece fresh.

Promotional image for Edging

The awkwardness of prepping for a first date, the gap between sexual over-frankness and oppression, the inventive use of imitation to avoid casting a third actor all make Edging an enjoyable experience.

Now and again the staging confuses as recollections vary about what may have happened in the past, and Marcus’s fixation on his straight best friend can feel both desperate and pathetic when he has been out since school yet still avoids gay clubs or hookups.

This is a two-person play with strong writing from the pair, effortlessly filthy yet presenting a story of a different kind of friendship where we can’t quite guess what happens after the show ends.

Now and then, the interplay between Al-Adwani and Coates feels close to a traditional comedy double act, with the latter as the exasperated foil to the pub bore/child of the former.

The title, by the way, refers to the sexual practice of stimulation and stopping just before the point of orgasm. Teasing, pleasing, and controlling. It’s an apt title for this play.

Edging is at the Old Red Lion Theatre Pub until 23 Sep with tickets here.