I attended the listening party for this production via Zoom. In these uncertain times, attending a listening party virtually from my living room is very apt indeed. The style of this play is also very of our times. We find ourselves listening in to a private phone call between a man and his female friend and, later on, his girlfriend.
In the description of this play, I am struck by the line ‘sometimes it is hard to tell what sort of love you are in’. This play gives a brilliant example of how the lines between friends can become blurred and how a loving and romantic relationship is not always physical. It is indeed clear that whilst one of the characters, Simon, loves both of these two women, he isn’t sure which one he is ‘in’ love with.
We begin the play with Simon describing to Gina (the ‘other woman’) an awkward situation that had taken place in the bedroom. They then discuss, at length, the sex life between Simon and his girlfriend. It is established early on that he has given up his life and job to move to London with her but that they hardly speak and are currently not having a sexual relationship. Gina then asks “what if I am your girlfriend?” and explains that the two of them have spoken more intimately in the past few weeks then Simon has thought to do with his girlfriend.
Gina then sends Simon a photo of herself in the nude and asks him to look at it and tell her what he thinks – to which he refuses. She then instructs him to fetch a ‘band aid’ and sit in the dark and pull the strips back quickly to see it spark. This is a perfect metaphor for the flirting and intimate chatting that they are doing via the video call. They are continually playing with the boundaries to see if there is a ‘spark’ and whether the ‘band aid’ should be ripped from Simon’s present relationship and have him leave.
Just after the heat turns up in the conversation between Gina and Simon, the current girlfriend joins the call. She is sweet and not at all threatened by Gina or her closeness to Simon. Gina is very clearly taking her moment to play with Simon and watch him squirm whilst his girlfriend is also on the line referring to him as “Si – mon”: you hear the awkward reaction in Simon’s voice but his girlfriend remains oblivious. When the girlfriend leaves, Gina tells Simon not to be a ‘dick, she is impossible not to like” and they agree to delete the photo and cool off on the phone calls which both parties admit have become excessive.
This radio play was is well thought out and charming. It brings to the table the real-life blurriness of romantic and platonic relationships between men and women. A thoroughly enjoyable piece.
Down the Line played at 45North on 25 June 2021. For more information see 45North’s website.