Edinburgh Fringe 2023
Adults manages to deliver a tale of broken promises, disillusionment and loneliness while delivering plenty of laughs along the way
It’s not everyday that your old school teacher turns up at your brothel. But, apparently, according to Kieran Hurley’s new play, Adults, it happens more frequently than you might think.
Taking a critical look at the lessons our elders have taught us and what we might pass on to our own offspring, Hurley’s latest offering is an entertaining farce set in a brothel with quality performances by its three-strong cast.
When Iain (Conleth Hill) arrives at a brothel for the first time, he has no idea what to expect; what he clearly didn’t expect was to see one of his former pupils, Zara (Dani Heron) as the madam. He’s early and Zara’s co-worker, Jay (Anders Hayward) who he’s booked a session with hasn’t arrived.
Initially they fail to recognise each other. Given Iain’s face is covered in pink gloop that Zara has inadvertently sprayed him with when she opened the door, perhaps that’s not altogether surprising. However, once she’s wiped off the mess of pink strawberry flavoured Yazoo yoghurt drink off his face, she realises it’s Mr Urquhurt, the teacher she looked up to in high school. He told her she could do anything but in the gig economy world she entered when she left university she’s found that that’s not really true.
Roxanna Silbert’s production of Adults is full-blown farce, dishing out gags and slapstick with gay abandon. The conservatively dressed Iain, looking more and more like a character from Still Game, gets a canary yellow satin shirt to replace his gloop stained shirt. Zara tells him he looks ‘fantastic’; he says he looks ‘absurd”. He’s right – he looks absurd. Once Hurley has set Iain up as a figure of fun, a character out of step with his setting, he proceeds to have a lot of fun with him – ever seen a teacher being attacked with a rabbit, anyone? (And I don’t mean the furry variety).
Finally Jay arrives, child in pushchair in tow, and between them Iain and Jay try to work out what Iain is really looking for. Iain’s life hasn’t worked out the way he imagined it would, and it doesn’t look as though it’s going to be any different for Zara and Jay. A tale of alienation from an increasingly messed up world and from each other, Adults certainly has something to say.
However, while Adults has some serious messages about the aspirations and learning we bequeath to the next generation, its laugh a minute trajectory fail to engage with any deeper ideas. Nonetheless Adults provides a highly entertaining ninety minutes in the theatre.