Kings Head Theatre, London
Written by Norris Church Mailer
Directed by Sondra Lee
Making its world premiere, Go See from Norris Church Mailer (Norman Mailer's wife) is a curious tale of deception and desire set in Manhattan in the late 20th century.
Peter Tate plays David, a 50-something professor of anthropology who is studying aspects of human sexuality. His research leads him to a sex-show booth off 42nd Street, where he encounters the scantily clad Marie. Feeding her dollar bills through the glass, not for his sexual gratification but to be able to talk with her, his quest is to learn more about her.
Lauren Fox is Marie, the 45 year old private dancer, who even though she cannot see through the one-way glass between her and the punters, has nonetheless seen it all. Fox's performance is a revelation, for whilst the plot of Go See unfolds through credibility stretching complexities, her character is at all times a woman whose personal tragedy and loneliness is profoundly plausible. There is a thread that runs through the play of David's homosexuality - and AIDS is starting to reap its grim whirlwind - but the deception that he unleashes upon the unsuspecting Marie is so beyond belief that as much as his story his hard to take seriously, so is it difficult to find any sympathy for such a manipulatively deceitful man.
A post-show Q&A suggested that there may be a connection between Go See and My Night With Reg, Kevin Elyot's 1994 play that famously comments upon the impact of AIDS. Such an association is an overblown conceit. As a poignant observation upon the life and journey of a sex worker, Go See shines - but as a comment upon David's confused sexuality, the play is far too muddled.
Tate's performance is worthy, suggesting at times Paul Freeman with just a hint of a faux Jeremy Vine from Radio 2 when he questions Marie, but no more than that. It is Fox's star turn that justifies the price of this ticket. Her tale of love denied and a youth abused, echoes with the plaintive resonance of a Bobbie Gentry ballad.
Sondra Lee directs cannily and such flaws as there are in Go See lie entirely within the text, for the remarkable (84 year old!) Lee brings vision and perspective to the staging. Klara Zieglerova's overpowering designs, together with Mike Roberston's lighting achieve an economic excellence amidst the confines of the King's Head space, cleverly suggest the clip-joint, shifting to the proudly maintained ordinariness of Marie's apartment.
The play may not be the best but Lauren Fox is both commanding and compelling. Go see Go See if for no other reason than to marvel at her acting.
Runs until 29th November