Luce (played by Eloise Joseph) and Charlene (Samantha Robinson) are a killer duo. It’s the morning after the night before, and they’re working together in a metal factory. They push through their hangovers whilst reliving last nights antics. As they go through their day, we meet Paulo (Stephen Myott-Meadows) a sweet and honest man vying for Char’s affections in the long-term. Reflection comes from Luce’s father, who we watch recording woman’s advice videos. Derek Elroy is impeccably dressed in drag as Doris, full of sage advice and a calming influence on both the girls. Of course that evening, they’re out again. Full of fits of anger and aggression at each other and the world, the girls hurtle into some uncomfortable situations. The situations we all choose to forget the morning after. Will they buck up their ideas and move on with their lives, or are they happy just working and drinking their lives away?
The two girls really push this play forward, without their brashness and bite, the dialogue would not be the same. They are the girls I see on a night out; they are me and my friends embarrassing ourselves in the kebab shop. Their truth is not lost on us, and they are startling actresses. Robinson is particularly touching, caught between a wonderful friendship which is pushing her to the edge and discovering who she really is. Myott-Meadows also gives our hearts a tug, he is so genuine and full of love that we want to cuddle him.
Kathryn O’Reilly has really done a wonderful job on her debut play, it is youthful and full of fire. It’s funny because it is so entirely true. We start by laughing ironically at the absurd truth the girls speak. The laughs slowly filter out as we push through the surface and see their deep underlying problems. I couldn’t ask for more from a play, there are explorations of lifestyles, relationships, diversity and killer dialogue.
The set is succinct, designed by Catherine Morgan, it flips from home to factory to club seamlessly. In fact, I much prefer the simplicity of it, as it allows us to track the characters closely and focus on what they’re saying. Composer Benedict Taylor also introduces suggestions of sound to set the scene. Particularly in the club scene it fits in well with the girls aggressive dance moves.
Questioning the entirety of Generation Y, the play speaks to us about what it means to have reclaimed our lives and what it’s for. ‘What’s your life plan?’ Charlene asks Luce, echoing the question Paulo asks her. The adjustment of society has created a rift in transitioning from teenager to adult. The space from 20 to 30 is something unknown, now heralded as a time you can have to yourself to figure out what you want to do. We’ve used it to reclaim our independence, not just as people but also as women. ‘Don’t let the man use you,’ the girls repeat to each other, whilst adjusting themselves in the mirror. Girls are now a disgrace, just as angry and rowdy as the guys. If we have found independence as women, do we have to display the same traits as men to be their equal, to feel in control? All the while we are a walking contradiction, working to live another life by night when we try to find excitement in narcotics and our fleeting relationships. People believe it is not enough to just float through your life anymore. But where is the line between enjoyment and running away from yourself? We’re the ones flailing around in the middle, trying to move out or cling on. I wonder where we will go and what we’ll become.
Screwed is playing Theatre 503 until 23 of July. For more information and tickets, see theatre503.com.
Photo: Sophie Mutevelian