Touch

Theatre, Comedy
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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Brutally perceptive new relationship comedy from team team behind 'Flea Bag'

Writer/director Vicky Jones’s new play is being positioned as ‘the new “Fleabag”’: it’s produced by DryWrite, the company she runs with Phoebe Waller-Bridge. A candid look at a 33-year-old woman who moves to a shithole London flat and embarks on a series of sexual adventures, ‘Touch’ might not wrench the heart in the same way but it’s certainly wincingly recognisable.

To be fair, as a broke single thirty-something Londoner I couldn’t be more the target audience, although I suspect quite a few people will identify with heroine Dee's terrible Tinder encounters, feminist dilemmas, cruddy rented accommodation, and commitment to drinking all the wine. Frank portraits of young women have been sprouting like fungus in a shared bathroom on telly; it’s nice to see them onstage too.

The dialogue races through modern dating dilemmas and sex comedy touchstones – why can’t we talk about sex; can you be a feminist and like being sexy/dominated/looked after; is it better to settle down or be independent... But it’s also proper laugh-out-loud funny, and Jones has a lovely ear for the silly rubbish normal people burble at each other. ‘Touch’ sounds chatty, not theoretical; intimate, not just issue-led.

It’s also generous: Jones’s protagonist Dee is objectively a mess – but she’s never judged, or forced to change her ways. Rather than a voyage of discovery, it’s more like she’s going round in circles on Ultz’s claustrophobic, revolving set. But ‘Touch’ ultimately stops on the not-exactly-controversial point of ‘know thyself’: Dee’s sexual exploration and shitty flat are necessary for figuring out who she is.

Amy Morgan is hugely warm and appealing as Dee, a rounded human being at the heart of the story. We see her hook-ups – four men and a woman – in short scenes spliced with a varying chronology. They risk becoming crude types, from the ‘nice guy’ who’s actually controlling to the over-entitled intern. Mostly, Jones swerves this, although one rant against feminism doesn’t convince – that nice guy might think it, but he’d surely need to be more wound up than this to say it…

Still, she’s good at upending expectations: there’s a leftfield cross-dressing scene, while the right-wing older man turned out to be far most liberal about sex, the only one really capable of honest conversation.

Maybe we should all be better at talking about this stuff – but then again, ‘Touch’ proves there’s plenty of laughter to be had stumbling around in the dark.

By: Holly Williams

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