SLAP by Alexis Gregory
The audience is invited to join pre-op Transsexual Dominque (Alexis Gregory) in her boudoir. This is a lair like no other, with metallic gold drapes, candelabras, fairy lights, glitter, mirrors and sex everywhere. Director Rikki Beadle-Blair’s staging and design is on fleek here! The brilliantly inspired choice of staging this play in a studio where the audience lounges on Dominque’s sofa’s and arm chairs really adds an extra depth and opportunity to become full submerged in the world you are about to be dunked, head first into. The cast of 3 really worked this space flawlessly.
Frankie Fitzgerald, although he occupies one single space throughout the whole piece (namely the bath) manages to somehow be present everywhere. I was at times memorised by Frankie’s performance. His embodiment and portrayal of Danny (Dominque’s boyfriend) is blinding. He manages to erode, dissolve, recrystallize and morph into the many facets of this character. The fact that he is able to do this is testimony not only to his precision as an actor but also to the brilliantly insightful and complex multi-layering of Alexis Gregory’s writing. As a debut piece this is as accomplished as they come.
In stark contrast to Danny’s confinement to the bathroom is Dominque’s unequivocal ownership of every inch of her world and indeed our shared space for the evening. If she’s not sitting next to you she’s backing away from you or running towards you. Alexis Gregory does this flair and in heels! At times I saw her as a one woman suffragette march with shades of Beyonce’s ‘Who Run the World?’ And it would at first appear that indeed this girl does run her own world. But alas, that was too perfect a notion to hold on to. Several times at the beginning of our evening with Dominque I thought I’d quite like to be her, by the time I was picking up my coat and leaving her love nest….I was quite glad I was not.
The polar contrasts of Dominque and Danny’s frenetic and sometimes desperate energies were balanced out beautifully by Dominique’s client/stalker John (Nigel Fairs). It is through the interjection of John that we start to understand the underlying yet undeniable conflict between the play’s dysfunctional lovers. Nigel’s performance is so smooth. I found my eyes drawn to him at moments when our attention was trying to be stolen by his 2 counterparts in this love triangle. He is the barometer of reality in this fast paced, unapologetic joy ride.
You really need to go and see this play for yourself. Expect the unexpected. Get your friends together and join Dominique for an unforgettable evening at Theatre Royal Stratford East.
Performances at 7pm and 9pm on each of the following dates in October 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th, 10th