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Theatre Review: The Colorado Session

There is something about the white South African accent, especially in men. It suggests something to my London ear, conjuring images of lemon highlights,chunky watches and a unique brand of snorting, petty fascism.

In fact, let's be honest, when most people hear that accent you almost see the word 'RACIST' light up above the speaker. Somewhere inside you think wanker and turn away.

I am aware that this is total prejudice and have in fact met some very nice white South Africans. In fact I would go so far to say some of my best friends are white South Africans. However the fact that their guttural accent will long be associated with the very worst of cultural nasties (Apartheid,the Walkabout chain) is just true.

Jessica Luxembourg, writer of the Colorado Sessions, knows this and uses it to her advantage. The moment the male lead walks on stage and opens his Afrikaans gob you think o here is a right one. Written with gusto and expertly played by Jeffrey Mundell this portrait of Donald the coked up, sex addict hedge funder is always funny and at times brilliant.

The play explores a turbulent one night stand between Donald and the messed up Jacqueline, a high flying lawyer. It's all very London isn't it? One of the play's strengths is its believability, its now-ness. You can really picture shabby, binge drinking scenes like these from Shoreditch to Soho any Friday night.

After another meaningless, well paid week our dysfunctional couple pick each other up at some drug addled party and head back to her place for a spot of, well, sport fucking.

At least that's what poor old Donald thinks. It never quite happens and at one point he gets so desperate he shouts 'Please just stick something up my arse!'then rapes himself with a stilletto.

Jacqueline however is in a state. She has been left by her boyfriend Ethan, a wannabe film maker who has planted a series of thoughtfully videotaped dear johns in Jacqueline's flat. At points these films are played, Ethan appearing projected and spectral as the main action pauses.

Overall the play is high percentage stuff. The dialogue is tight and the video interjections work well, their emotional intensity building throughout.In fact watching Jaqueline and Donald bounce off each other like the breathing cartoons they are is not only great fun but often charged and broody.

If the Colorado Sessions has a fault it is perhaps trying to say too much. Just the unravellings and collisions of the two leads would have been enough. Instead we get digs at capitalism and the pitfalls of bohemian ambition queering the mix. There is mention of a suicide that feels a sub plot too far and when Denver is evoked as some kind of craggy, American paradise it feels slightly irrelevant.

The duty of channeling these various themes falls mainly on the female character Jacqueline and it is a definite overload. You are left wondering what exactly the character is all about. S&M ball breaker? Post-Feminist career girl?

Jaqueline may be an attempt to comment on the fractured state of modern womanhood but it doesn't quite work. Although she is subtly played by Harriet Plewis Donald is too tightly drawn to allow even a hint of bagginess in his co-lead.

However there is one moment where suddenly the character comes into emotional focus and with her the whole play. When Donald finds the final dear john behind a whiskey bottle he ties Jacqueline with her own handcuffs and forces her to listen to the stream of accusations and dismissals from her former lover. It destroys her.

'It hurts!' she howls like the Wicked Witch of the West post dousing.

With her hands up and screaming like a trapped animal we finally see what this play is really about, namely the agony of being left. It is a moving and raw evocation of one of life's most universal and god awful torments and, as they say, worth the admission alone.

Throw in the ravings of Donald, pacy dialogue and the touches of scorching emotion and The Colorado Sessions makes a crackling night out. With just a few edits it could be superb.