"The English kiss" is the name given to a Gibraltarian weather phenomenon; A Big Grey Maddening Cloud would have less panache as a title, though more accuracy, in every sense. (Come to think of it, that's how the entire 19th century is described in Orlando...)
Church and Tadman's comedy centres on a bisexually predatory conman putting one over on virtually every member of a group of Anglo holidaymakers comprising every stereotype in the book – tight-assed upper-middle family with naively passionate (and atrociously acted) coming-out public-school son; Essex bodybuilder plus battered bird (submissive but suss); nebbish getting a raw deal from his right-on woman all straight out of '80s Thames TV sitcoms. Dear, oh, dear.
The play was apparently written in the year it's set, 1984; its only concessions to the eight years since are a token prediction about AIDS and a passing tasteless gag about terrorist incidents on the Rock. It's the authors' bad luck that this spineless, laughless Six Degrees Of Fornication opens in the same week as a Ray Cooney farce, even such an inferior one. Church, a former arts editor of the Independent On Sunday, has sadly given ammunition to those prejudices about critics as frustrated creators. When the final line reveals our anti-hero to be a probable killer, we just wonder why he didn't spike the sangria two hours ago and save us all the discomfort of sitting through such obsolescent tripe.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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