Overall show impressions
Jamie: When it was first announced that Tom was in this show, I looked it up and read what it’s about and I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to like it. I hate stories about infidelity, and that’s quite literally what every single scene in this show is about. Carrying on a years long affair is apparently something the playwright Harold Pinter did himself, so the scenes are trying to be all deep, and I’m not having it. They’re cheaters. This is a story about lying, selfish people. I couldn’t even really get behind Tom’s character Robert — who normally would be the character I’d root for, as the jilted party. I’m not completely convinced that Robert had affairs of his own, since we find out that his wife Emma has lied about something pretty big during the conversation where she claims that he has. BUT, Robert admits, totally out of the blue, that essentially he’s beaten up his wife a few times just for the hell of it. So…
Lorena: Yeah that whole “bashing her because I love a good bashing” was both horrific to hear coming out of Tom’s mouth (even in character!) and disturbing overall — especially when it NEVER came to light again! I almost want to find the play and read it to see if it’s actually in there somewhere and they forgot to do that scene somehow. Either way, just no. I however, do love a good affair story! In fact, I write them quite often myself. I think monogamy as a construct is generally ridiculous and inherently sexist through implication of inheritance and ownership being a male-only right. Regardless, the affair plot line overall is one I find compelling. This play was no different, though I will absolutely agree that every single character was immensely unlikable. But even if no one was having an affair, I would not have liked them as people. They were just blah, selfish, self-important people who I would never want to be friends with. In that way, I dislike that it is an affair story because it implies that only unlikable people can have affairs, which I don’t support as an idea.
Jamie: I think that the scene that affected me the most was the one where Robert was on the stage with his daughter. Everyone had talked about their children throughout the play, but to actually see a little girl on the stage really brought home the stakes. Kids are little sponges, and they’re soaking up all this anger and resentment and bitterness that all of these characters are carrying around for each other. I read that Harold Pinter became estranged from his son, and…yeah, that’s what happens when you do horrible damage to your kids.
Lorena: In general, I don’t like children. I found bringing a child onstage unnecessary. We could imagine it just fine, like we imagined Venice and the flat’s setup just fine without any sets or props. The whole part where Tom is essentially cuddling this child onstage was weird to me, and uncomfortable. Maybe I just hate false intimacy? Maybe where you hate infidelity, I hate false intimacy. You would probably equate them, but I do not. Honestly, I disagree about the kids being part of the stakes in this scenario. I didn’t see the connection, except perhaps with Ned, but that’s another thing entirely (and goes back to “ownership”). I thought all the adults being epic assholes was what most likely caused the biggest issue for these kids — none of them should have had children to begin with! Maybe Judith who we never met. She seemed to have herself together.
Jamie: We’re gonna have to agree to vehemently disagree on this one. For me the kids were the entirety of the stakes… But ANYWAY, all my story complaints aside, the show was very well done. I thought that the lack of set was going to be distracting for me, I don’t usually like that, but it wasn’t at all. Our seats were down low, so we were looking up at the stage, but I would have loved to see what it looks like from above, because the spinning turntable feature that let the actors glide around the stage was fantastic. And everyone was wonderful. I know Tom is the reason we’re here, and he was fantastic — the lady sitting next to me had some tiny opera glasses that she whipped out whenever he was on stage, even though we were like four rows back and could see everything clear as day LOL — but Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox were right there with him. I know you liked Charlie in particular in this.
Lorena: I definitely liked Charlie in this! Maybe I found him to be the most likable character is why? Maybe I’m just over Tom by now… who knows. Charlie definitely was cast in the correct role. It’d be difficult to believe him in the role of Robert, I think. All in all the acting was outstanding. I hated all the characters and enjoyed them, all at once! Lots of depth to the acting. The script itself is pretty sparse, relying on a non-linear storytelling format to unveil the lies and how memory and perception changes over time. This in particular was brilliant, and a great statement on how relationships grow over time, both good and bad. The spacing, as you mentioned, was extremely compelling. Including the choice to have characters not in a scene remain onstage during that scene. It added depth and comedy to have someone onstage during an intimate moment or straight up lie about them, where they’re not really reacting, but sort of are… breaking the fourth wall but not. Quite compelling stage work!
Lorena: So, I know the intimate scene between Tom’s character and Zawe’s character (Emma) should be the hottest bit, but honestly onstage intimacy squicks me out. I guess I’m not a voyeur?! LOL Regardless, we did some Tom with half a shirt on… which WAS sexy. Of course Emma is having an emotional breakdown in that scene so it’s less sexy overall. Ugh. Why is it when Tom’s doing a standard sexy thing it’s not sexy to me? Reminds me of the underwear ads he did. Nothing will compare to that handcuffed walk into the throne room at the open of Thor 2. Unf.
Jamie: And we must discuss his ANGRY MELON EATING. That entire lunch scene was way funnier than you’d expect it to be considering Robert is sitting across the table from his oldest friend, who he just found out has been having a years long affair with his wife. That poor melon took the brunt of his anger. There was also the gag where Robert pours the wine they’re drinking and fills the glass to the brim. Who hasn’t had one of those days?
Lorena: Omg that wine pour had me rolling! And I loved how Charlie bent over to sip it before grabbing it with his hand. I do wonder if they ever need to pee during their shows? They drank A LOT of fake alcohol during it! Tom’s character was odd in this play. I found him so off putting! All his love for squash! He was just too… masculine? Maybe that’s it. He had a gross masculinity to him that I could not align with. His timing though, comedic and otherwise, so precise. He’s so bloody talented!
Jamie: Tom posted a video on his Instagram of he and Charlie playing squash a few days ago! lol His character really would not shut up about it.
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Stage door experience
Jamie: I was very happy with the spot we got. I took your husband’s advice of using my size to my advantage to heart, and my general teeny tininess got us right up there in the front. The crowd was like three or four rows of people deep, and us being in the back was not happening, so I did what I had to do.
Lorena: I’m glad you made it happen! I only wish I could have been on the railing too, but being with tall Bob during the exit slowed me down too much. That one dude I had to plow through to get right behind you was rude enough as it was!
Jamie: Zanib was the MVP of this experience. She told everyone how great they were in the show, whilst I mumbled something so incoherently (it was supposed to be a “Thank you” for signing the program) that Tom had to ask me to repeat myself. And then I was so nervous that I forgot what he said to me (which was “Oh it’s no problem”) and had to ask you afterwards what had transpired. I mean, him asking me to repeat myself DID cause him to look me directly in the eyes for a few seconds, so I’m going to count that as a positive, and as the reason my mind went completely blank.
Lorena: I hate when the person you most want to see arrives first! It’s so “oh shit I’m not ready” and then you get all starry eyed and brain dumb and just cannot. I don’t think I said anything to Tom! But also I didn’t feel he way paying us much personal attention compared to the other two. Sure he’s the “main attraction” but… Probably our fault though, as we didn’t come up with clever questions for him on the spot (unlike Zanib, who is immune to becoming starstruck)
Jamie: I don’t really know a ton about Charlie Cox, but he was so sweet and personable with everyone.
Lorena: Oh I loved him! I won’t lie, I found myself far more attracted to him than Tom that night. He was so gregarious and lovely, while Tom was very professionally nice. And I do love that Tom made double rounds, first doing signings, then doing selfies with everyone (EXCEPT FOR US! <glares at the rude people who stepped on our space and shoved through the barricade when he arrived to us for the selfie>). I don’t want anyone to think Tom wasn’t a complete gem, he certainly was. But Charlie had personality that Tom didn’t seem to exude. Whatever happened to Tom, he simply won’t show his true, fun loving self any longer. That’s not accessible for us plebeian fans any longer, it seems.
Jamie: I do get that, to be honest. I feel like the Taylor Swift thing was a turning point in terms of the amount of prying people did into his personal life (and we’re NOT going to get into the whole Taylor thing again here lol), and if that were me, I’d keep things closer to the vest. Whatever, we’ll always have the intimacy of that crazy vitamin commercial.