Production images: Douglas Frost Photography

As we dip our toes into theatregoing waters for 2018, New Theatre has a sexy show full of double entendre, partial nudity and risqué jokes lapping over the footlights.  There is a moist joke to be made here… not that I have the fortitude for it. Luckily, we have Jonathon Holmes to bring the blue. THREE IN THE BED is a frothy, fun romp about the pleasures and perils of diving head first into hedonism.  Coupling is risky!

Tim finds himself single.  He assumes so anyway, after a big fight and a spectacular speed off by girlfriend Emma.  Jessica has been in the background and figures that it is now pounce-time.  However, she is gazumped by Zoe, her bestie.  Into this pond of simmering hormones add another boyfriend who doesn’t realize he’s been dumped.

THREE IN THE BED did well at last year’s Fringe Festival and this re-mount (ahem) still has its fringy cred.  Insubstantial set and glaring, jerky lighting but you don’t leave the theatre humming the production values.  It’s all about the music.

The music, the voices, the mix and the performances are all terrific.

Aaron Robuck leads the cast as Tim.  He has quite a task, hardly off stage and with several solos which he bosses like a man. (Oh dear.)   He can be vulnerable too. His early solo, ‘More Than Fine’ is paced beautifully and sits so well in his range.  He follows this up with a rollicking character piece in ‘I’ll Be It’ … some cracker movement for this charmingly awkward suitor here too, he really does embarrassment well.

His object of affection for that song is Zoe who is played with elegance and class by Alicia Rose Quinn.  Quinn does a great job of avoiding the tropes of sex kittenishness and this tiger neither belittles nor lampoons the sexually confident female.   And she can sing up a storm as her duet with Jessica, ‘Cupid’, highlights.

As Jessica, Daniella Mirels is perky and persistent and willing to give all for love.  Her solo ‘Flattered’ is vocally shattering with very shrewd impulse work to guide it.  The audience loved that song and it’s my pick of the music too.   Adin Milostnik also does a tremendous job of the not so smart Ben.  His good-natured confusion is really funny to watch and enjoy.

The scene stealer when she appears is Caroline Oayda who brings an Emma who is perky and irrepressible and a hoot when she turns into nasty, tasty Amy.  Her physicality when pissed is hilarious and her “shake it all about” had me in tears of laughter.

There are several really lovely scenes.  I especially enjoyed the domestic drama of car scene which was comic  as hell but the ring of truth about relationships was not to be ignored.  There was a well-controlled sadness to the scene.   I also loved the infectious ghastliness of ‘Tissues’.

THREE IN THE BED sometimes struggles a bit to live up to the rude publicity  but it never overdoes itself by straying into crass or crude.  Mind you, Jonathon Holmes has also directed so he doesn’t miss a chance to embellish the text.  No opportunity is missed, including words like “lady lips” and there is an extended scene with considerable variation of the issue of “shit”.

There’s also a lengthy and terribly predictable shadow orgy scene that needs a re-think. Boring sex … the worst! Some of the rhymes are groaners … engage and assuage … sad face emoji!  But there is a great deal about the show that is memeable.  Plus, the final song, ‘Happiness’ is an anthem for the bullshit around us if I ever heard it.

Musical Direction by Natalya Aynsley is noteworthy for its restraint.  There are several places where a band could be annoyingly loud or insistent but Aynsley lets her cast, all of whom have strong and characterful voices carry the show.  There’s not much dialogue really.  The simple piano behind ‘More Than Fine’ adds poignancy and fragility to our hero’s protestations and the drum pulse is used very effectively in the next moment for ‘I’ll Be It’.  And the audio mixing, out of the box, is perfection.

So, get your togs on and dive into 2018 with THREE IN THE BED, a grownup frolic playing at the New Theatre until 26th January.