30th January – 3rd February, 2018
Written by Joanne Fitzgerald
Directed by Amy Lawrence
‘My preference is for non-arseholes, but they are quite hard to find’
Jemima’s answer to Bea when asked about her sexuality and what made me frantically scribble it away and press into my memory as something that makes this show entirely stand out.
It’s not often, in my experience, to see a show based on LBTQ relationships where sexuality became something that did not signify the characters but just was. It existed. People loved and lost each other.
I feel like I want to pin that quote on a badge on my coat at all times.
I’m going to directly quote the summary from Theatre503’s website as I feel my words won’t eloquently put across the plot of the play or give too much away.
Bea, an older woman, comes out late in life. She nabs herself a young lover, Ellie, who has aspirations of starting a family and putting them both on a path to domestic bliss. Then Bea meets Jemima, who catches her eye and steals her away from Ellie. It all falls apart when Bea finally meets James, the boy beneath Jemima’s make-up, wigs and glamour, who doesn’t excite her quite as much.
What I really loved about this production was the embracing of simplicity.
The design was simple yet stunning; two moving distressed (in a fashionable way) metal walls on wheels and two chairs and a table.
These were choreographed into a seamless movement and dance inspired transition between each scene. They made a beauty of scene changes by not ignoring it but embracing it and it added a physical story and enhancement of the plot without adding extra clunky exposition dialogue. We understood the changes of character and their relationships further from this beautiful movement.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable production. A very grounded, mature and feline like Bea (Orla Sanders) who struggles to open up to those close to her starts the play with Ellie (Leah Kirby), who is a rather in your face, energetic extrovert next to Bea’s calm, still nature. Opposites attract or from what I saw last night; ultimately repel.
This is all chucked up in the air when Bea meet’s Jemima (John James), a gorgeous, outspoken transvestite. From the moment, Jemima walked on stage, she brought on a different youthful, truthful energy, that made me drawn to watching her and her interactions with Bea.
Another exquisite moment from Jemima, was the unveiling and undressing of her by Bea, which I thought was utterly sublime. She became so childlike, innocent and tender. It really showed the intimacy and shyness of that first sexual encounter with a new partner.
I feel slightly mean for coming so early in the run as I felt that the actors and their intimacy and connection between each other took the first two scenes to warm up and I would be interested to see if this alters later in the run.
Bea’s fight to open up to those around her was the arc that ran through this piece and ultimately ended it.
For my taste, I had an issue with the ending of this play. It all wrapped up rather neatly and sweetly with no grudges held and I guess the thing I would take from that is that friendship and genuine human connection is more important than sexual or romantic relationships in the end. But I would be intrigued to see, how this could have ended differently or possibly more honestly.
What I most enjoyed about this play and what I would take from it, is that it showed the awkwardness, genuineness, closing and opening and beauty of dating irregardless of gender and sexuality. A play that made you laugh but also made you reflect on your own relationships and interactions.
The next time someone questions you about your sexuality or preferences, just answer;