Unsolicited Male (Chapel Off Chapel) – theatre review

A boss oversteps the mark and the consequences are devastating in Ron Elisha’s incendiary Unsolicited Male. For the past two years Wendy (Kym Valentine), now 38, has been personal assistant to accountant Zeke (Russell Fletcher). She enjoys her job. Middle-aged Zeke has been good to her, grateful for how she has managed to transform the office. One night, after she has put in a 12-hour day, Zeke invites Wendy out for dinner. What starts out as seemingly innocent flirtation leads to something far more sinister.

Photos by Jodie Hutchinson

Wendy subsequently reveals all to her sister Chelsea (Gabriella Rose-Carter), who is horrified. Zeke unloads to his life coach Noah (Anthony Scundi), who is praiseworthy. Ron Elisha wrote the play in response to the global #MeToo movement. He brilliantly transitions the narrative in Unsolicited Male. While the interaction between Zeke and Wendy begins light heartedly, it becomes decidedly uncomfortable. There is much humour in the piece, which is also dramatic and distressing.

The actors play their parts most convincingly. Kym Valentine is superb, adeptly capturing Wendy’s emotional realisation of what went down and what it means for her. Gabriella Rose-Carter’s performance as the shocked and judgmental sister brings with it attitude and clarity. Russell Fletcher effortlessly realises Zeke’s apologetic inadequacies, while Anthony Scundi is a cardboard cut-out of an Alpha predator. Will Atkinson lays it on thick as a pompous waiter attending to Zeke and Wendy.

Skilfully directed by Suzanne Heywood, Unsolicited Male highlights the pitfalls of power imbalance in the workplace and the toll it, all too often, exacts. Eighty minutes without interval, it is a “must see” Q44 Theatre production, the subject of which is bound to spark lively discussion with your “significant other”. It is playing at Chapel Off Chapel until 7th August, 2022.

Alex First

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