Jack is 25 and about to lose his virginity. He’s showered, spritzed with cologne and picked up some tips from a female-friendly porno. All that remains is for his father to pay Julia the prostitute and send her up to his son’s bedroom. In this astucious look at 21st century sex, we explore attitudes to sex work and the taboo topic of sex and disability. Jack dreams of having the same experiences as his rugby club mates, but his learning difficulty makes dating a minefield. Luckily, in the cyber age there’s an app for that. Jack’s mother Antonia, played by Clare Lawrence-Moody, believes hiring a call-girl will boost her son’s confidence and help him become a man. Exactly as she explains while rolling on his superhero socks in the play’s incongruous opening scene. What mother could do more?
Traversing a number of issues, Sarah Page’s new play is both subtle and provocative, drawing on the playwright’s extensive interviews with sex workers. A recurring theme is the dichotomy of responsibility. The ever pacifying Alistair, played by Graham O’Mara, shows obvious disdain for Julia’s profession, conveniently ignoring his and wife’s own culpability in hiring her. Shrewd Julia, played by with defensive audacity by Florence Roberts, is quick to note the hypocrisy. With canny foresight, Page slowly reveals Julia’s journey into the oldest profession, deftly drawing
parallels between the show’s two female leads.
Christopher Adams is superb as man of the hour, Jack. In a role so easy to overplay, Adams’ stiff body language, downward gaze and urgent responses have a genuine lack of guile. But more significant is Jack’s innate desire for normality, putting the audience in mind of Channel 4 series, The Undateables. He longs for dates in Pizza Hut, stolen kisses and to nurse a broken heart while getting drunk in the kitchen. As his parents focus upon the practicalities, Jack’s view of his first time remains touchingly romantic. Punts is suffused with such opposing viewpoints and complex double standards, which Jessica Edwards’ facile direction allows the audience to discover at its own pace.
The play’s diplomacy and sensitive handling of the subject matter is nothing short of a triumph. So too is Page’s incorporation of comedy into the most unlikely scenarios. However, Punts most striking achievement is its dexterous exploration of topics from multiple perspectives. As Julia points out, “Everyone with a good heart deserves to get laid” placing escorts and care workers in the same bracket. Having successfully quashed the idea that sex is solely the repast of the young and healthy, the play also questions the less obvious ways in which we pay for sex. Though the term ‘ground-breaking’ is overused in reviews, Punts is one play that truly deserves the accolade. This is 90 minutes of unmissable, mind-altering theatre.
To find out more about this production or to book tickets, please visit