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> > > Birds of Paradise: Wendy Hoose

27 April 2016

Johnny Mcknight’s Wendy Hoose is, quite simply, a hilarious piece of writing says Sarah Ismail as this ribald romp originally supported by Unlimited in 2014, returns to London’s Soho Theatre.

James Young and Amy Conachan star in 'Wendy Hoose'. Image supplied by Birds of Paradise © Eamonn McGoldrick

Two young people, Jake (James Young) and Laura (Amy Conachan), have recently met online and have been ‘sexting.’ The audience gets to read their messages, word for word, as part of animated subtitles that flash above the main stage. Audio-describer (Julie Brown) reads them out, hilariously inserting her personal opinions into the script whenever she feels like doing so!

Jake and Laura have arranged a one-night stand, late on a Friday night, at Laura’s flat in Cumbernauld, Scotland. Jake enters through the open door of Laura’s red bedroom to find Laura already tucked up in bed. 

She’s in her nightgown, with her very large, “nice tits” on display (in the opinion of Jake). And so begins the one-night stand until Jake, to his great surprise, discovers that Laura is physically disabled. Jake makes no attempt to hide his shock, or the fact that he prefers sexual partners who are very different to Laura!

Jake calls a taxi home to Paisley and in the forty minutes it takes to arrive at Laura’s home, the audience learn that these two young people who started out thinking they wanted the same thing are actually complete opposites. Jake dubs Laura’s home a ‘Wendy Hoose’ because of the size of her kitchen, which he visits twice to bring them both red wine, (sure to give her heartburn later, says our audio describer as Laura gulps it down).

Laura has a physical disability, but there is much more to her than being disabled and living in an adapted home. She’s a feminist who thinks that women can and should be equal to men - Jake makes no secret of the fact that he disagrees. She’s a mother of a one year old daughter who does not share her impairment. Jake makes no secret of his opinion that this is a good thing. She keeps her vibrator, which she uses while Jake is in her toilet, in the same drawer as her baby monitor – yet another thing Jake cannot understand. Laura also teases Jake for the lack of English grammar in his texts and his use of ‘text speak.’ “R - one letter - not three. U - one letter - not three.”

Best of all, Laura displays a great deal of humour when Jake, insensitively, tries to ask her about the reason for her disability. First, she tells him that it was the result of a shark attack. Then admitting that that was a joke, makes up a hilarious, sarcastic story instead! 

Jake, meanwhile, reveals that as well as being insensitive to disability, and able to afford Diesel underwear, the only things he likes in life are Tomb Raider, Lara Croft, porn and his X-box, which is definitely an X-box and not a Playstation!

The play ends leaving the characters and the audience with one question on their minds – is online dating really easier than meeting someone in person from the start?

Between them, audio describer Julie Brown and Amy Conachan as Laura steal this show, which is directed by Robert Softley Gale. Overall, it is highly recommended. Jake might be the last person most would let into their home unless they know him well, but his shallow personality is a foil that will keep you laughing throughout the show’s 65 minutes.

Wendy Hoose is currently running at London’s Soho Theatre until 7th May 2016.

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