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The One: Preview

A Taste of Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Durham’s Midst

Originally written for the hit actor and play-wright Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag, Vicky Jones' The One concerns complex female characters recognisable to those already familiar with the work of the creative duo. But the first amateur production of the play, brought to Durham by Letterbox Productions, is a far darker delve into female sexuality and the nuances of consent in relationships.

The play depicts couple Jo and Harry negotiating the dynamics of their relationship over the course of one evening. Toxic, interdependent and violent, the audience are witness to the workings of a relationship consumed by increasing cruelty and disorder. Joined by Harry’s friend Kerry, hoping to win over Harry and reveal the dysfunctional nature of the couple to them, the small cast allows the complexities of deteriorating relationships to be explored adeptly.

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Ariana Van Biljon handles the difficult character of Jo with ease. Often unlikeable, provocative but at times fantastically witty, Jo is a female character refreshing in her inexplicability. Her other half – brought to life by Aaron Rozanski – is subject to Jo’s galling vices. He responds with coercive and manipulative behaviour that sees the actors depict their pernicious relationship skilfully. Finally, Esther Levin's Kerry provides the perfect reminder of the extent of the couples failings as a relationship outsider.

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Since the play’s premier four years ago, the MeToo movement has provided timely context to the play’s sexual politics. A central theme identifies the nuances of consent in relationships and the accompanying power dynamics of the darker side of love. When Kerry says she thinks she might have been raped by her long-term partner, Jo attacks her with ‘you’re not just some lame fish without the capacity to communicate’. The negotiation of consent becomes particularly personal for Jo in light of her relationship with Harry and the audience are thrown by the play’s increasingly uncomfortable material.

As director Sophie Cullis- co-directing with Rahul Shah- says of Jones’ work “it is a play about women” offering a unique examination of the intricacies of womanhood in all guises in the twenty-first century.

The One will be performed on the 10th and 11th at 7:30pm in the Burley Room at Hatfield.

A link to the Facebook event can be found here.