Touch review – Fleabag follow-up is a glorious cocktail of sex and self-discovery
Vicky Jones’s new play is a spiky, fearless exploration of what it’s like to be a wine-glugging, sex-loving woman in her 30s. No surprise there: Jones directed the original stage version of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag and the pair are joint artistic directors of the theatre company DryWrite.
Touch is cut from similar cloth to Fleabag – especially its spectacularly entertaining, cringeworthy opening scene in which single girl Dee (Amy Morgan) attempts to perform a sexy strip for her new Tinder lay, Eddie (James Marlowe). But the weft and weave of this material are different, and Touch is in some ways both more ordinary yet more complex than its predecessor.
If Fleabag’s sexual behaviour was viewed through the prism of grief and mental crisis, then Dee is an uncertain everywoman in search of her real self. Recently arrived in London from Wales after her boyfriend Sam (Matthew Aubrey) cheated on her, she has a temporary job and a tiny bedsit, replete with resident mouse. Dee’s home is in a state of chaos that reflects her mind and her finances. Can she discover herself through sex? She’s certainly up for anything, whether it’s exploring her fantasy of being spanked with Miles (James Clyde) or shagging the posh-boy teenage intern from work, Paddy (Edward Bluemel) – the latter scene is another blissful comic highlight.
Dee casually labels herself a feminist, but she calls her ex to fix the broken loo, and while she cherishes independence she is also defined by the expectations of men. She may be more informed than they are about what pleases a woman in bed, but Dee doesn’t know what she really wants from her life. Babies with Sam back in Swansea? Or more sex with Vera (Naana Agyei-Ampadu), the highly anxious, untrusting lonely friend who offers Dee more than she appears to want.
The show doesn’t quite sustain its comic energy, and oddly the cameos from the men are more convincing than the scenes between Dee and Vera. But Jones directs her play – cleverly avoiding acres of naked flesh – with the same honesty that she brings to the writing, and Amy Morgan is a delight as Dee, a delicious 21st-century minx trying to avoid the mousetrap.