Words: Chloe Shimmin
Kieran Hurley has mixed elements of genres of both black comedy and drama in Adults. The play begins with the entrance of a suited, middle-aged, grey-haired man with strawberry milkshake all over his face. The audience erupts with laughter. He enters the Edinburgh brothel early, to find the room not quite ready for visitors, by which I mean it is still a normal bedroom.
The verging-on-slapstick gags keep coming; this man’s shirt is wrecked so he must wear the only shirt available – a yellow blouse. We meet Zara (Dani Heron), as she slowly turns her bedroom into a brothel. Meanwhile, the awkward gentleman falls off silk bedding, is terrified by whips and handcuffs and crashes into a table of dildos which cascade across the floor. For the most part, these gags are funny if a little predictable.
The big reveal comes when we discover the man is in fact her old English teacher, Mr Urquhart (Conleth Hill.) Things just got interesting. The next reveal comes that he is there to see Zara’s male business partner, Jay (Anders Hayward).
The play then feels more like a drama; exploring deeper concepts about generational differences, both blaming one another for the problems in the world. Hurley’s play humanizes sex workers, allowing us to see the intricacies and normalities involved in the work. The duality between sexual fantasy and reality are starkly clear throughout.
But what is most impactful about Adults is the sad look at middle-aged men who have achieved everything on the surface and yet are deeply unhappy. With the wife, children, house and job – Mr Urquhart questions his identity, his choices and his sexuality. He ends the play crying in the arms of a stranger; leaving us to reflect on his unhappy life.
Yes, it does feel like a mix of genres, but boundaries are made to be broken and the messages of the play are clear.
Traverse Theatre, Traverse 1
10-13, 15-20, 22-27 Aug