Frank and unapologetic, writer Owen McCafferty’s Unfaithful is an insight into how two couples navigate the rocky roads through their relationships, negotiating age, sexuality and death. Tom and Joan are the married couple, Tom feeling emasculated by age and sexually frustrated Joan having become less attracted to him over time. The second couple is younger: Tara, university drop out and checkout girl, and Peter, male escort. The couples’ stories interlink cleverly – Tara’s search for someone to excite her ends in Tom, and Joan’s revenge comes in the form of Peter.
It resonates with many: we can all get carried away with our desperation to reignite the spark in our monotonous lives, and we all fear that we’re wasting our time on this earth. Unfaithful proves that infidelity doesn’t discriminate, and the way it lays truth bare is compelling.
Dynamically paralleling youth and age, Unfaithful suggests that an exploration of your own sexuality can help you find yourself as a whole, whether you feel you’ve lost your way or even if you haven’t quite found it yet. Its reality of cheating on a partner is unglamorous, and its treatment of sex is awkward. Instead of romanticising or blowing things out of proportion, it’s down to earth – almost cringey in places – which works considering the everyday context of the piece.
The staging is very impressive, with large rotating sets and futuristic lighting. The score is a strange electronic cacophony that intersperses the scenes. But the lives of the characters, however believable, relatable and touching, are not big enough to contend. The space, the sets, the music all seem to swamp the personal stories.
It feels like the drama takes a while to generate some momentum, but when it does it proves a touching and sensitive look at infidelity and all that goes with it.
Unfaithful plays at Traverse on 20 and 22 – 24 August as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.