Theatre Review: WHAT I FELT WHILST UNDER YOU – Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

WHAT I FELT WHILST UNDER YOU is a tender examination of what it means to be masculine in the 21st century

Following their five-star, sell out run of smash hit CONSTELLATIONS, Wonderhouse Theatre Company return to Hope Mill Theatre with WHAT I FELT WHILST UNDER YOU, a new play by award-winning, Manchester based, writer David Gregan-Jones.

WHAT I FELT WHILST UNDER YOU tells the story of Marie, a thirty-something mother of two who returns home unexpectedly one evening to discover her husband’s secret. Her discovery is the start of a long, dark but somewhat comical night of the soul as the pair attempt to understand each other and their marriage. The play is the first ever winner of Hope Mill Theatre’s POWERHOUSE PLAYS initiative, a programme of emerging plays written by Northern writers or with a strong Northern Theme.

Passionate, ruthless and compelling, WHAT I FELT WHILST UNDER YOU is a tender examination of a man fighting to be himself and a woman trying to understand him. Set entirely in the couple’s bedroom, the 80 minute play unfolds in real time as the couple struggle to come to terms with Paul’s secret with Marie also revealing a few of her own.

As an intense two-hander, the focus is very much on the characters with Oliver Devoti and Clare Cameron both delivering strong and emotional raw performances as Paul and Marie respectively. Yet, despite this, the pair seem to lack any real connection, meaning some of the more tender sides of the couple’s relationship feel forced and unnatural.

The pacing of the play is also a little slow in some parts, with too much time spent on the opening sequence and some of the comedy falling flat.

That said, in an age where Trump and Weinstein are the zeitgeist, Gregan-Jones’ beautifully crafted script goes a long way, exploring not only the modern-day issues faced by many married couples but also what it means to be masculine in the 21st century.

3 out of 5 stars

WHAT I FELT WHILST UNDER YOU runs at Hope Mill Theatre until 21 October 2017