THEATRE REVIEW: A Partnership at Sheffield Studio

HOW do two people stay together if one of you hates themselves and the community they are supposed to belong to? That's the question posed by A Partnership

HOW do two people stay together if one of you hates themselves and the community they are supposed to belong to?

That’s the central question to this heartbreaking two-hander that dissects a modern day gay relationship in unflinching fashion.

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On the eve of Ally’s 30th birthday he and his partner of five years Zach question their lives.

They decide whether they should split up by the time their takeaway meal arrives.

There’s less than an hour to go before midnight, ending Ally's carefree days as a twenty-something.

Lawyer Zach and Ally, a nurse, have just bought a new flat in London.

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Zach has punched Ally’s hospital colleague at a nightclub for something homophobic he said about Ally.

It feels like a sign of hidden anger about himself that returns later.

So follow a string of achingly honest revelations, peppered by moments of hilarity full of Ally's acerbic wit.

It’s powerful stuff with some in the audience nodding away as issues such as fear of ageing, self-loathing homosexuality and monogamy come under the microscope.

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Ally rails against boring Zach, who really wants to be the life and soul of the party like Ally. But we see in flashback that holidays in Dubai (unusual destination given the country's homophobic laws), trips to the US to see Zach's mother while living in London’s fashionable Soho seem removed from boredom.

And if the rift between them is so great, how come they managed to make it to five years? The rollercoaster of love is tearing them apart.

This was the debut play from Rory Thomas-Howes — who also plays Zach — and it seems to be shaped by experience, with biting rapid-fire dialogue that pulls no punches. But do we really like either of them?

A stark set seems to suggest Zach's love of order and allows space for the two actors to embrace (yet not really kiss) and dance.

Both Thomas-Howes and Ben Hadfield as Ally, are superb, deftly running the gamut of emotions that leave the audience wondering if they can recover their love for one another and carry on.


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