One Hour Only- Underbelly –5.20pm


 This drama written by Sabrina Mahfouz and directed by Matt Wilde which actually lasts the one hour only of its title with the one hour in question being the time allotted to twenty one year old AJ- Faraz Ayub- in a high class brothel with Marly-Nadia Clifford -who is quite literally new to the game. It is a skilfully written piece which challenges gender issues, sexual politics and uncertainties giving rise to insecurities and raising questions.

The scene is set in an upmarket brothel-all mirrored walls, subtle lighting and smooth music- while Marly waits on her first ever client. As a financially struggling  biology student she has found herself taking this diversion on her career path as a means to supporting herself whilst furthering her education to ensure her future which she has high hopes and ambitions for. Her first client when he arrives turns out to be a young Asian called AJ, all swagger, East London patois and ‘innits’ as punctuation- who for a twenty first birthday present has been presented with the gift of one hour with a prostitute from his friends.

At first things seem to be taking the traditional route-Marly pretends to be Polish as most clients apparently prefer a ‘foreigner’- but then she slips and starts swearing in her more natural South London accent. This causes AJ to rethink his strategy and he starts quizzing her about herself whilst she opens up to him and responds by asking him about himself and his own motives, dreams and ambitions. What then follows is that instead of getting engaging in the physical pleasures expected of them they start to talk and during the one hour-paid for- duration manage to disagree, bond, argue and make up again.

The subject matter of their conversation runs from generalities concerning their generation to more personal revelations. It is an arresting insight into contemporary British youth and where their heads and desires are at whilst revealing the cultural and societal pressures they face .

This is an extremely competent and well executed production brought to fruition by two very strong performances making the most of a well written script and subtle yet effective direction. It is drama well deserving of your time which is, in fact, one hour only.


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