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4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant adaptation that is thought provoking re: relationships and marriage, 20 Feb 2014
This review is from: The Mistress Contract (Oberon Modern Plays) (Paperback)
I saw this play at the Royal Court and the full text was in the programme. So although I read it cover to cover, I also had the benefit of seeing it performed - so this review is (even with the best will in the world) probably subconsciously influenced by seeing it.

This is an adaptation of a supposedly true story recorded in a book called The Mistress Contract by She and He. It has adult content (fairly graphic discussion of sexual acts) and is unsuitable for children.

It is the story of an unnamed man and woman (He and She in the text) who knew each other when younger, parted ways and each went on to marry and have children. Years later (probably in their 40s/50s - he is stated to be 52 if I recall correctly) they start an affair. She (saying its making her miserable) suggests a contract in which she agrees she'll provide "mistress services" being companionship when he's in town and all sexual services in return for him providing her with accommodation and expenses (buying her a house basically). She decides they should record their conversations to chart "this experiment".

The beginning of the play is a bit dull and full of sexual discussion and you fear that the whole thing will be like this. But stick with it and it emerges into a very poignant expose of this relationship and relationships in general. The impression given is that she suggested the contract because she was in love with him and knew he was just using her for sex so thought this would be a way to get something out of it to cope. By the end of it, a very different picture emerges.

The play charts their enduring relationship over the years. It raises all sorts of interesting questions about the difference between male and female attitudes to sex and intimacy, marriage and relationships. Once it gets going, it is charming, amusing and well written and actually very moving.

I have not read the book this is based on, but after seeing and reading the play, contemplated buying the book and read the reviews on amazon - both .co.uk and .com. All I can say having read those reviews which are very negative, is that this adaptation must be a far superior product.

Worth reading to make you think about relationships. Even better, go and see it at the Royal Court on until March 2014 I think.
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The Mistress Contract (Oberon Modern Plays)
The Mistress Contract (Oberon Modern Plays) by Abi Morgan (Paperback - 30 Jan 2014)
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