Three Way is the latest piece by Lincolnshire-based theatre company Split Infinitive, founded by Helen and Alexander Millington who also direct and write the play, respectively. The piece debuts at Camden Fringe this week as the first stop of a mini-tour which will culminate in Manchester next month.
Three Way is aptly constructed of three separate monologues, performed by as many actors who take turns telling their stories. Each speech centres around the experiences of bisexual men, in an effort by Split Infinitive to tackle the commonly overlooked ‘B’ in LGBTQ+. David is uncomfortable with his monogamous relationship and assumed ‘gay’ identity; Guy details (in-depth) his sexual experiences with men specifically; while Clara gets an unexpected education in her Dad’s sexual exploits, past and present.
As the audience enters, they are greeted by the three performers who are already onstage and engage in small talk until the show begins. Initially, it isn’t obvious whether this is a logistical choice or a creative one, however, this becomes clear when the performance gets underway and certain audience members are asked their names, to then be used for characters in the narrative. This is a clever tactic, often used for comic effect, which pays off by further engaging the audience in the stories told.
All the actors have their strengths, with Alexander Millington effortlessly commanding the stage as David, Naomi Phillips displaying great depth as Clara, and Jamie Dunn giving a truly endearing and sweet turn as Guy – despite having the most explicit speech. However, each performer also falls victim to the unforgiving nature of extensive monologues and the following struggles to consistently captivate the audience throughout. This is most likely due to the vocal patterns and repeated rhythms that emerge in each actor’s storytelling as the piece progresses. This prevents the performances from feeling organic and occasionally hinders comedic moments that are otherwise well-written.
Unfortunately, almost all of the production’s weight falls onto vocal delivery as the piece is staged simply with minimal props. There is a very fine balance to be struck here, as a monologue-heavy piece like this can benefit from visual aids, yet items such as the mini-bar still feel somehow superfluous. The solution seems to lie in really investigating how each actor can make their performance itself more visually stimulating – for example, when Millington mimics David’s partner, this could be presented as a fully realised multi-role, rather than just a voice.
Three Way is a well-written piece providing necessary representation and engagingly exploring its important theme through both funny and heartfelt moments. The cast is lovely and all have great moments within their performances, which they will no doubt settle further into overtime.
Three Way is playing Lion & Unicorn Theatre until 28 August. For more information and tickets, see The Lion & Unicorn website.