Like eating, sleeping and defecating, having sex is a basic human need, especially if you’re a young man. But when, if ever, is it appropriate to facilitate someone else fulfilling this need?
Sarah Page’s delicate new play Punts at Theatre503 delves into this question and also examines the transactional value of the act of copulation and its impact on female empowerment.
Jack is 25 and has learning disabilities. His parents feel sure his confidence and self-worth will be improved if he gets his end away like his brothers and his friends at the rugby club. They employ a prostitute (a punt), a hand-picked female sex worker of around the same age to do the deed, but the rendezvous has a profound affect on the family’s stability.
The intricate drama makes us scrutinize the question of consent; Jack (Christopher Adams) has an inability to read people and so does he really possess the power to say no, or have his parents, who are trying to compensate for their own relationship pressures, simply coerced him into losing his virginity?
The arrival of the lady of the night, Julia (Florence Roberts) makes them question their own intimacies and past decisions; Antonia (Clare Lawrence-Moody) had their son at just nineteen and so missed out on a university education and Alistair (Graham O’Mara) appears to yearn for the bygone wild days of youth.
Julia’s fiery independence also threatens Antonia’s very safe way of life in suburban London and exposes the inadequacies she feels as a homemaker.
Setting the play in an area of affluence is a masterstroke as it removes the idea that sexual transactions only occur in the more seedy areas of our societies and as Julia assures barrister Alistair “you’ve met a prostitute before.”
It’s a tricky subject matter, but Page’s play finds the humour within it, while adroitly examining the moral dilemma.