Review: Open at Vault Festival, 26/01/2019

Produced by Full Diclosure Theatre, directed by Will Maynard and starring married couple Timothy Allsop and Christopher Adams, Open offers an intimate glimpse of modern relationships through the lens of two people living it.

Completing a week-long run at London’s hidden treasure Vault Festival, the enthralling two-handed play documents the pair’s relationship from the first date through to civil partnership and eventually marriage, including their decision to make it sexually open.

Practiced by 40% of gay relationships, Allsop and Adams believe that between them they have slept with more than 100 other men while together.

Open is an important piece of theatre in helping normalise such common elements of gay relationships, elements that both rpotagonists admit have often been downplayed in the push for legislative changes such as equal marriage.

What really helps Open stand apart from similar attempts at the genre is having its roots in the real-life up and downs of Allsop and Adams’ relationship, tracking every step without missing a beat.

There are, as they admit in the denouement, parts of any relationship that must remain intensely private, and that naturally has to be respected.

But the scope around that is astonishing, the way they tackle being the subject of homophobic abuse to how they established and developed their own set of rules to govern the arrangement.

There is also the interaction brought to the piece by director Will Maynard, from recorded conversations with past lovers to encouraging the audience to read their diary excerpts, the story is brought to life in stunning detail.

Open, in those high points, encapsulates everything that is best about Vault Festival – the searing portrayal of real-life drama and quandary in a theatre space that has no limits.

It’s all well and good offering spaces for work such as this, but it’s a fraction as effective if played to an empty room. That this show attracted strong crowds for its week-long run is an excellent sign.

In the theatre opposite was the acclaimed ‘Juniper & Jules’ while ‘Thomas’, on an hour before, offered a similarly unflinching take on living with and caring for someone with autism.

Allowing such brave and honest theatre to thrive in an environment is crucial, and long may it continue.

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