Spoiler Alert! I’m going to divulge what happens (or doesn’t) in Yussef El Guindi’s unsatisfying THREESOME (@ Apollinaire Theatre through May 7th) so stop reading now if you prefer not knowing. El Guindi spends an inordinate amount of time having his one female character (Alison Meirowitz Mc Carthy) rant about women as third class citizens and about the “toxic relationship” women have with their bodies. In fact there’s a whole heap of talk but scant insight into any of the characters.
The joke in the First Act is that the trio of adults about to have a three-way sexual experience never stop talking (about bodily dysfunction among other topics) long enough to do it. Now maybe Ryan Landry could write a scene (about diarrhea in the midst of intercourse) so outrageous that audiences would find the squeamish material hilarious but El Guindi can’t pull it off. It’s just gratuitous and repulsive.
Ordinarily a naked man ( Geofff Van Wyck) on stage with little to do but stand about and wait is rife for comedy but not in THREESOME, mainly because El Guindi keeps the pace glacial and because he wants to say something significant about the Arab spring. How is this connected to the comic coupling (or tripling), you may ask? Well, two of the threesome are Egyptian ex-pats who complain endlessly that each has been holding back emotionally and “omitting” information when in point of fact it’s the playwright who is omitting and obfuscating to beat the band.
For one thing, he shrouds a major revelation in confusion: Even when he tries toward the end of the play to connect the dots, they don’t: The female character accuses her lover (Mauro Canepa) of treating her differently after learning about violent attacks on women when both of them returned to Egypt for the revolution BUT at that point she hadn’t told him it happened to her. She only chooses to tell him that piece of news when he is drunk; then she holds him responsible for his nasty, neanderthal, liquor induced (?) reaction. Perhaps El Guindi ascribes to the notion of “in vino veritas.”
For another, El Guindi reintroduces the naked man, now fully clothed, and he turns out to have a vile secret as well, not to mention that he’s undergone a character transplant I just couldn’t believe. You really have no one to root for in THREESOME, not even the woman…. because it’s revealed in Act II that the she has screwed her lover (in the “betrayal” sense of the word) out of a job. And the ending where she bares her soul (if indeed that’s what happens metaphorically – I couldn’t say) comes out of nowhere.
Just give me a juicy Pinter threesome like BETRAYAL or OLD TIMES and I’ll show you a shattering ménage a trios. All of El Guindi’s prurient preoccupation with sex doesn’t add up to anything, least of all a coherent lesson about the Middle East.