DC Jackson’s latest play is a rom-com with a surreal twist. Julie and Andrew are in a committed monogamous relationship but have recently decided to take their sex life up a notch, and become ‘polyamorous adventurers’. They find Mark, a suave Edinburgh businessman, online, and invite him through to Glasgow for a one-off ménage à trois.
The morning after, they wake up to find themselves inhabiting different bodies: Julie becomes Mark, Andrew becomes Julie, Mark becomes Andrew (‘Fear the mindswap’, as We Are Klang might say).
While searching for a way to reverse the process, they all have to continue with each other’s daily routines. You’d expect big and bawdy laughs to be constant, given the plot. Threeway does not disappoint in this regard. The play is peppered with enough one-liners and explicit sexual details to maintain a consistent comic tone; moreover, the minimalist staging allowed the play a good amount of breathing space. Jackson derives humour from the real life consequences of this patently absurd situation without allowing his characters to become incredulous and unlikeable.
The idea of minds swapping into different bodies could easily have led to clichés about gaining perspective by walking in the shoes of others, and a warm fuzzy denouement. Thankfully the play avoided these altogether by being committed to the idea of humans as inherently farcical in their inability to access self-knowledge. The final twist is an elaborate joke, but one that, on reflection, reveals a certain underlying darkness to the play that is not commonly found in romantic comedies but seems somehow more truthful to the nature of human relationships.
The geographical location of the humour in Scottish theatre is more commonly that of the lowlands, so it was a breath of fresh air to see the comic aspects of Highland identity—in this case, the idea of an urban, multicultural society being an alien one—staged. I have to confess to a coincidental vantage point of my own over Julie and Andrew: they’re from the Black Isle, and so am I. Both characters felt recognisably evocative of the place, and reminded me of friends from back home, which is a testament to both Jackson’s writing and the convincing performances of Gabriel Quigley and Brian Ferguson.
Threeway presents a pretty major challenge to its cast, and the actors were not wholly convincing in their projections of their colleagues’ initial performances. This is a relatively minor quibble and didn’t substantively hinder my enjoyment of Philip Breen’s production. Edinburgh is flooded with risqué sex-driven romantic comedies but Threeway sits at the top of this generic heap.