Johnny McKnight and Robert Softley Gale craft a sex comedy for the twenty-first century
The combination of Johnny McKnight, best known for his wry take on the pantomime, and Robert Softley Gale (director of the acerbic If These Spasms Could Speak and energetic activist) was always going to be inappropriate. McKnight’s broad sexual humour and Softley Gale’s rejection of politically correct pieties come together in Wendy Hoose to make a thoroughly modern take on the classic sex comedy.
What begins as a casual sexual encounter between Laura (Amy Conachan) and Jake (James Young) soon becomes a battle of wits, in which prejudice, disability and contemporary sexual mores are brought into the light. A sardonic voice-over, ostensibly the audio description for the visually impaired, brings a third character into the two-hander, commenting on both Jake’s lack of finesse and Laura’s vigorous desires.
McKnight’s script is sharp, twisting Jake’s Paisley patter to comic vulgarity, while Laura is a perfect foil. While her state of leglessness is both a source of pathos and humour, her arguments against Jake’s prejudice are articulate and lack self-pity. Beneath the uproarious banter, the production makes telling points about the attitudes towards disability.
Neither McKnight nor Softley Gale are frightened to address serious issues, and the fast-paced direction allows Conachan and Young to bring out the humour of the embarrassing situation. Unashamedly vulgar, but with a compassionate core, Wendy Hoose is a bold, entertaining and sensitive production.
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 15 Mar; Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Sat 29 Mar.