Harry (Rufus Wright) and Jo (Phoebe Waller Bridge) are bored: bored of their sex life, bored of each other. Their relationship, which began as an exciting fling between a university lecturer and his pupil, has become poisonous and full of tension. Most of it is sexual but there’s a worrying element of violence apparent right from the start. The play opens with the heavy romance of a full moon and music from ‘Phantom of the Opera’ before the couple launch into a sex scene featuring porn and Wotsits. This really sets the tone for the next hour: filthy and very, very funny.
Vicky Jones’ biting script packs an incredible amount of drama into just one night as Jo and Harry stay up until the early hours awaiting news from her sister’s delivery suite. They start the night with playful bickering and flirty fighting but, several bottles of red later, things escalate to uncomfortable scenes which leave the audience reeling and wondering how on earth they ever thought that the couple were blissfully (if a little violently) in love.
Harry’s friend and old flame from work Kerry (Lu Corfield) third-wheels into this warzone to deliver an ultimatum that turns up the heat. They confront each other and several taboos, too. Rape and domestic violence are dragged onto the stage and given the Vicky Jones’ treatment with dark, witty comedy and total frankness.
It’s impressive that all this is packed in to a compact running time of just over one hour but the audience would certainly have relished at least another thirty minutes of this punitive theatre. Watching The One is a bit of an ordeal but the play certainly leaves you with plenty to discuss on the train home. The performances are outstanding. Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Rufus Wright sizzle as the doomed couple, making their love, lust, loathing and lunges for one another all equally convincing. Waller-Bridge is particularly good, oozing sex appeal and a bizarre adolescent sassiness. Lu Corfield offers strong support as pathetic, approval-seeking Kerry. Steve Marmion’s direction is just as tightly focused as Jones’ to the point writing and the production comes together faultlessly.
The One grabs you by the throat and won’t let go until you’re in a state of wide-eyed shock – as much at yourself for laughing so much as at the horror you witness. A hard-hitting must see.