The floor is covered with chequerboard tiles and chairs are piled together at the front of the stage.
* * *
The legs interlock and the seats jut out into an overshadowing arch.
This stunning set provides a stark space for four women from different times in the 20th century to pour their hearts out, relating their beautiful and often heartbreaking experiences.
Sex & God is a show made by its characters; each one of them is fascinating and desperate in their own way. There is the workaday maid Jane, the fertile and struggling Lizzie, the oppressed wife Sally and the naïve student Fiona.
Moving amongst the stories with precision, the script bounces between the characters.
The individual women relate their life experiences with brutal honesty, speaking in unison with the others to change topic or begin a new chapter. This spins a web between the women that can’t help but capture the imagination.
All of this is mirrored in the movement, which is simultaneous, harsh and flicks the characters onto new tacks with every purposeful shift.
All four actors provide engaging and varied performances.
However, Louise Ludgate’s Sally deserves particular praise. Her portrayal of a crushed woman struggling to break free from her abusive, overbearing and alcoholic husband is poignant and leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Ludgate builds up a repulsive image of this creature with only her descriptions.
Although the interlocking nature of the script allows for quick movement through the play, it also provides Sex & God’s main weakness.
With four distinct characters, the topics – ranging from abortion and marriage to job hunting and travelling – are overly diverse and the emotional moments pile up thick and fast.
They are so frequent that they steal focus from each other and cause the show to feel disjointed.
The pace is similarly unrelenting and it constantly feels like something fascinating has been rocketed past to get onto the next piece of narration. The compelling, intense performances by the actors are not enough to anchor all of the ideas contained in Sex & God, providing an experience as overwhelming as its namesakes.
Run ends tomorrow.