In a bedroom straight out of every noughties girl’s fantasy, best friends Jess (Georgia May Hughes) and Lucy (Bebe Sanders) dance to Atomic Kitten’s ‘The Tide is High’ to a backdrop of Groovy Chick posters and Harry Potter paraphernalia. Whilst celebrating the last day of year 11 with her first sip of Chardonnay, Lucy introduces herself to the audience explaining her love for Ryvita and how chemotherapy works in the same matter of fact tone. Unbeknownst to Jess, Lucy’s mother is battling breast cancer. And so begins Lucy Light, a play chronicling Lucy’s journey from a 16-year-old girl praying for “at least a C Cup”, to a woman who must decide whether or not to have her breasts removed to prevent cancer.
Lucy Light makes excellent use of time shifts punctuated by slightly dated pop songs from the likes of Lorde and Katy Perry to tell its story. We watch the friends during pivotal moments such as Lucy’s twenty-second birthday, the wedding of a friend and her final decision. By couching the action in Jess’s teenage bedroom, the play’s central theme of female friendship is accentuated. The setting serves to remind the audience of the pair’s enduring friendship and emphasises the gravity and difficulty of the decision that Jess must make. Although the play gives a sensitive treatment to the topic and is genuinely informative, it could have done more to deconstruct what it means to be feminine and the relationship of breasts to one’s own femininity.
In any case, Sanders and Hughes give outstanding relatable performances as the quintessential ride or die best friends, who gossip, fight and get kebabs after nights on the town. Their chemistry is electric and the audience feels privileged to be let into their friendship, acting as both their confidante and a witness to the hashing out of their fears and insecurities. The play confidently oscillates between Lucy’s experience of coming to terms with the fact that she may one day have breast cancer and the experience of Jess who is trying to provide comfort to her best friend whilst struggling with her own worries. Both actresses give excellent performances, with Hughes’ Jess perfectly balancing her portrayal of grief and worry with her role as the play’s main source of comic relief.
Lucy Light is a triumphant exploration of female friendship in the face of adversity, both educating the audience and providing visibility to the issues surrounding breast cancer. It confidently provides comfort to the audience with the heartfelt profession that cancer does not need to be faced alone.
Lucy Light played at Theatre N16 until October 7.
Photo: Hannah Ellis