Paul T Davies reviews The Cobbled Streets Of Geneva by Nemo Martin now playing at the Vaults Festival 2020 at The Vaults, London,
The Cobbled Streets of Geneva.
12 February 2020
Vault Festival Website
This play feels like a story that needs to be told, taking place initially outside a Mosque in North London, and then mainly in Geneva where Adham has asked his friend, Raushan, to accompany him on a works holiday, to be his “husband”. Adham created this situation to put off his female boss, who he feels is sexually harassing him. From this unlikely start, love grows between the two men and they move towards acceptance and a relationship.
It’s a bold statement, and it’s a shame that the script, by Nemo Martin, isn’t more adventurous in tackling what could be a very tricky situation for men in this position and community. Raushan is a totally understanding man, bisexual, with a gay daughter, patient, kind and loving- nothing wrong with that. And despite the difficulties he has in accepting his sexuality, Adham doesn’t battle with internal or external homophobia that much, the stakes for the couple are not high enough and it feels a little cosy.
The performers, Ashley Alymann as Adham, and Shiraz Khan as Raushan, seem a little tentative when portraying intimacy, but balance that out by finding some good comedic moments, especially Alymann, who also has a great vocal style. And the latter scenes are beautifully written, and there is a great tenderness to the piece, and there isn’t enough tenderness on the Fringe sometimes! It feels a couple of drafts short of being a really good play, and perhaps exploring their developing friendship more will round out a promising look at an often untold LGBTQ community.