This example is based on a play by Stephen Poliakoff, whose most recent TV drama was Dancing On The Edge. I thought this would be slow and ponderous as people have suggested his work is, but it wasn't. It's actually pretty brilliant.
Thirty year old Claire (Deborah Norton) lives in a grim flat somewhere in the Midlands. Her student brother Ralph (Mick Ford) has come home for the holidays. Ralph is a bit of a prankster and likes to make prank phone calls, which become increasingly inappropriate and disturbing as the film goes on. He takes Claire on a night out to cheer her up but as the night goes on, the siblings become incestuously closer. How far will they push it?
Self-appointed moral guardian Mary Whitehouse tried to ban the film for its depiction of an incestuous affair, despite the fact that it's not really about incest. This adaptation loses some of the play's subtlety; for example, in the play their relationship as siblings is built up more strongly, which makes their incest more shocking and builds a fascinating dual dynamic (siblings and lovers). Norton and Ford start off too flirtatiously (Poliakoff actually says in the stage directions that the parts should be initially played as ordinary brother and sister) and also make the mistake of being too flirtatious when it gets to the 'make or break' moment. The way the play is written is very matter-of-fact; after all, this is one of the grimmest romantic encounters you could possibly have. It's grim in the sense that we know they're brother and sister and they're about to do the deed but it's a bit too 'romantic'.
Whilst Claire does like the idea of having a reckless night of passion with a good-looking young man, brother or not, there is more to the original play than the awkwardly addictive tension of "will they, won't they?" The title turns out to be a play on words; there have recently been a terrorist bomb attack near where Ralph lives. Trauma and self-destruction is what draws him towards Claire.
What the film does retain is the theme of the deadness of modern society. Muzak is playing everywhere (note: Muzak is a banal type of music that used to be played on loop in lifts. Think of the music they play when you make a call and are put on hold), the buildings are stone concrete and the youth don't care. Claire and Ralph pick up teenage waitress Nicola (Lynne Miller) who is eerily unconcerned by their incest, and is even inquisitive. There's an odd kind of entertainment in seeing what life looked like in the seventies and funnily enough, it doesn't look that different from the early nineties.
If you closed your eyes, ignoring the staginess and the seventies costumes, it might even be a play about life as it is in 2014.