Freshly Ground Theatre have unleashed their latest production on Melbourne – Affair Play is about love, lust, and of course, affairs. Pop Culture-y talked to Sam Floyd, the writer of the show who also stars in it.
Is the subject of infidelity one that can be made humorous easily?
Yes. High conflict says drama, which screams comedy. It’s swathed in universal truth, uncomfortably close to everyone. Stifling impulses is a key part of daily survival as a productive member of polite society in 2015.
It’s uncomfortable topics that most require diffusing. A sharp eye is the best tool for this.
Did you feel it was necessary to play up some particular aspects in order bring the humour forward for the performance?
The four characters each, in Seinfeld-ian fashion, embody extreme fatal flaws; impulsivity, insecurity, arrogance, intellectuality.
What defines it (and comedies at large) as comedy is the lengths to which all will go, and the twisted logic that they will employ, to get what they want… despite being woefully unequipped.
Having not yet seen the performance, I’m unable to draw any conclusions on the characters. Is there a clear direction, you believe, that the audience will lean in defining the good/bad characters of the play? If so was this a clear intention when writing?
If we’ve done our job the audience will be torn, their allegiances frequently shifting. I, the writer, put myself in the shoes of every character and love each one of them. They’re humans, making terrible, terrible human decisions.
Audience empathy has less to do with a character’s literal approval-rating. What’s engaging is watching a character struggle to get what they want. If they want it, we want it. If they are working, we are on board, whether we wish them success or failure.
Does the writing of the play ever attempt to justify infidelity to the audience and is there a true moral point to the story itself?
The play’s moral standpoint is not a statement, but a question, and it’s in the title. Can an affair ever be “fair”? This has an answer. A resounding, unanimous “no”. That’s where it gets interesting. How many times and ways can we ask this? How many elements can we throw in the mix, before the answers get fuzzy?
So, to answer the question, yes. We justify the impossible every which way. An argument can only be as strong as its counterargument. We fuel both sides of the debate, so they will fuel each other.
Cheating nowadays seems overly easy, with apps like Tinder or the website Ashley Madison. What inspired you to write a play based on the subject of infidelity that is simply two couples at dinner without the aid of modern ‘romance’ apps or websites?
Stakes. The stakes are highest if they are close friends, with meaningful friendships, all crammed into the one room. That’s the craft of creating drama.
I love a premise with extreme economy. Distil a philosophical conundrum into a single, high pressure scenario. Theatre is particularly conducive to this, with its logistical parameters.
If it’s not too personal, if the subject of the writing, cheating, based on a personal experience?
Based on my experience of being a human, being in love, and being in lust… applied with reckless amounts of imagination.