Jeremy Kingston - Review
In his four previous works to Fulfil Me Fully, Phil, Sebastian Rex addresses extreme areas of modern urban life where in various ways those who are powerful exert themselves to hurt those who are weak. The qualities that make these plays remarkable are the value of his ideas, his alert command of language, plot and stagecraft, and a readiness to spring unnervingly comic developments into his plots.
In Living With…, the first of the four plays I have seen and admired, the Everyman figure is passively enduring humiliation from his flat mates. One of these starts cramming fistfuls of cake into his ever-open mouth, and this extraordinary incident is both appalling and astonishingly funny.
The focus in Toy Boy is on another passive male, dutifully accepting his role as sexual object, and one of the uncommon qualities in this play is that the hero’s bid for freedom is marked by his shift from speaking in rhymed couplets to prose. The play confirmed Sebastian as a writer with a distinct and intriguing vision.
The sole male in $ellebrity is passive against his will, tied up by two women determined to have sex with him. The development here was more straightforward although, as with all his work, one could never be sure that events might not take a seriously alarming turn.
In Spare – the title an anagram of ‘rapes’ – he develops his analysis of bad relationships in an unprecedented manner. Parents exploit children, doctors their patients, friends prove treacherous and cruel, but the parts are all written gender-neutral and as a result Parent could be played by a male actor, in which case he will be a father; a female actor will make her a mother. This expresses Sebastian’s argument that exploitation, ridicule and contempt is directed by bullies of either sex upon victims of either sex and abuse is to be found anywhere and everywhere.
This was a play on a larger scale than his earlier work, and with its cast of 8 switching roles for each new performance no production can be quite like any other. A second visit endorses the impression left by the first, that abuse is to be found anywhere and everywhere. The play is printed in a separate volume with his adaptation of the Büchner classic – The Woyzeck
The richness of his ideas, intensity of vision and the precision of his direction confirm what I felt when I first came upon his plays, that here is a playwright with important messages to convey and with the skill and imagination to do this so vividly that the images he creates stay long in the mind.
Jeremy Kingston, critic for The Times, from the foreword to “Fulfil Me Fully, Phil and other plays”