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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

The Culture (Powersuit Productions), at Theatre Works’ Explosives Factory - 80 minutes

Will (Mina Asfour) and Katie (Laura Jackson) are millennial best friends who live together.

Both single (Will is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and Katie is straight), each looking to find their perfect match.

Most of the time they have fun together, which includes hosting a popular podcast – “Don’t Even Get Me Started” – where they talk about their lives.

Then Katie falls for the new guy at work, Kale (who is referenced frequently, but we don’t see), who Will doesn’t think is right for her.

But, in no time, Katie and Kale are inseparable and the distance between Katie and Will grows. They row.

At the same time, Will falls for Kale’s mate, who hasn’t come out yet.

Both romantic relationships are fraught, but Katie’s turns particularly nasty as Kale turns out to be controlling, manipulative and violent.

While starting out as lightweight, humorous fare, The Culture deals with several serious and, unfortunately, all too real issues.

These include domestic violence, misogyny, homophobia and eating disorders.

On the former, the sobering fact is that one in three women have experienced physical violence.

I dare say Katie speaks for many when she says she never thought it would be her.

Photos by Aden Meser Photography

While tackling vitally important subjects, it still took me some time to warm to The Culture.

The language used early on is that of a certain generation and a number of the exchanges between Will and Katie appeared trivial.

That is notwithstanding the fact that there is a scene between the pair at the start when Katie sets the wheels in motion.

She is developing a marketing pitch for her boss on a new shapewear product.

She challenges Will to name public figures that have delivered addresses involving sexism.

I understand that the relationship between Will and Katie had to be established before the heavier part of the narrative took over. Still, I felt the play needed tightening.

Laura Jackson began writing the piece in 2014 and has developed it since.

Driven by youthful exuberance and the search for the illusive Mr Right, there is a welcome authenticity about Jackson and Asfour’s performances.

The busy set, which doubles as the couple’s apartment, works well.

The action moves between food preparation in the kitchen, the couch, the dressing room and an area where the pair usually record their podcast.

Text message exchanges, which are part of the storyline, are projected onto the back wall of the theatre.

It is important to note that the reservations I have expressed in no way diminish the impact of the work as a conversation starter.

I venture to suggest that is the whole point of The Culture.

Directed by Carly Fisher, it is playing at Theatre Works’ Explosives Factory until 17th June, 2023.


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