25/09/06 KISS AND TELL

A 95 minute stage play by Ritchie Smith

Monday night and off to the Horse and Groom to players and Playwrights weekly extravaganza. This weeks offering is by Ritchie (who wrote Robson green's Rocket Man). It was described as "This Life" plus Ibsen, now personally I like Ibsen because I enjoy good writing I don't however hold his world view (Life's a Bitch and then you die).

The play concerned the lives of four characters (three living one ghost?), the main two and the secondary are your basic insecure, self absorbed looking for love/ to belong, constantly messing it up types, Beth an ambitious worker for an aids relief charity and Jake a "writer" trying to sell a script to Hollywood and living with (off?) Beth. The secondarys are Tracy a journalist (and nymphomaniac/ introvert) and Ewan (the ghost/ hallucination) whose tragic life and death Jake is celebrating in his play.

The action starts with Beth preparing for an interview for a promotion she desperately wants (she also wants to be a mother and wife before it's too late). While Beth goes off to her I.V. Jake is being interviewed by Tracy. For someone who pose's as a man who "Cares" about what happens in the world Jake is eagerly looking forward to a decadent Hollywood life style. Tracy is obviously as interested in Jakes body as his script (Should have gone to spec savers); finally after several very obvious hints she bluntly propositions him. Typical plastic stud he's intimidated by a woman making the first move and cry's off.

Beth returns, despondent about not getting the job. Jake half heartedly comfort and support her but (still fired up after his encounter with Tracy) is really more interested in getting her into bed. Beth say's she's tired but sounds like she could be woken up pretty easily. Beth also wants to discuss them/her having a child, Jake avoids the issue (doesn't want commitment?) by sticking to his own agenda. Beth goes to bed leaving Jake to contemplate "the complexity of woman." Enter Ewan (ghost/hallucination?) to console his old pal Jake.

What follows is basically a winge by Jake about women in general and Beth in particular, Ewan (who earned his living by trading his company for money and eventually became HIV positive and met Jake in a homeless person's hostel) counters with his own
Encounters "that's why I prefer bugery, you don't have to look at their ugly red faces." Finally Jake goes to bed un-comforted.
Jake, having successfully sold his play to "Tinsel Town" is at a posh hotel finalizing the deal where he bumps into Tracy. She asks for another interview and they go to the bar. Tracy again proposition's Jake "let's get a room." and this time he succumbs.
Beth has at last (or so she thinks) convinced Jake that they should try for a baby. So we find ourselves in a clinic where both Jake and Beth have just started full spectrum check ups. Enter Tracy (from consulting room) in tears, Jake try's not to be there but she spots him. Jake now just wants out and starts row with Beth, who storms off (having told Jake to F--- off )
A solitary Jake (now HIV Pos, as is Beth) is again consoled by the sprit of Ewan, who figures it's a shame I'm dead and you're dieing but well it was fun while it lasted.
Tracy, convinced that she's gone from being "god's gift to the male libido" to becoming a total leper, is drowning her sorrows in a bar. Spotting Jake (also HIV pos) doing the same she confronts him. After the obligatory "you gave it to me" "no you gave it to me" scenario, Tracy and Jake attempt to commiserate with each other but realy just winge about what they've lost, (for Tracy the empowerment her sexual adventures gave her, for Jake "this happening just as I was getting there.") .

Beth comes to visit Jake and after some prevarication that she's had a fling with her mother dissolute "toy boy" who is probably the source of the "plague". Jake goes ballistic "You went with him HIM he who's shagged just about every whore in Africa????? Where do you work? ". After listening to Jake rant on about the "agony I've gone through thinking that I did that to you" (Oh yeah.), Beth leaves and Jake proceeds to get newted and encounters Ewan for the final time. Ewan is fairly unsympathetic "Well what do you expect given your attitude to sex you think this only happens to people like me?"

Beth just given a speech to conference on A.I.D.S. in Africa approaches Tracy (their first meeting) after an embarrassing start she asks if Tracy will be her platform to tell he world how little western governments realy do about research into HIV. Tracy readily agrees but warns Beth that probably all she'll get for her pains is a P.45.

Beth visits Jake at his cottage and after awkward couple of minutes tells Jake that she has been retested and found to be clear, and he must be clear too. After some histrionics Jake suggests they have sex together once more for "old times sake". Beth agrees then, Jake in an amazing about face start's acting like a real man, he tells Beth that no they can't because he had a second test too and is still positive. They embrace and Beth tells Jake about the stand she's taking, he says he and Tracy will also stand up and be counted.


Not a bad evening, the only unrealistic part being Beth's miraculous reprieve, I mean she went with the toy boy who's still got it, with Jake after he presumably got it from Tracy this is highly improbable. Still if you enjoy good dialogue this one's for you.
See you next week.