After a successful run at the Hampstead Theatre, followed by a transfer to Trafalgar Studios 2 – The Wasp has made its way to the Jermyn Street Theatre. A two-hander centred on two childhood friends, The Wasp explores themes of friendship, development and revenge. It’s two protagonists Heather (Selina Giles) and Carla (Lisa Gorgin), began their story together at school. As good friends in their youth, they shared the beginnings of an innocent adolescence, until one day the situation turned sour. After Heather endures years of what one can only describe as physical, mental and sexual abuse at the hands of Carla and her friends, 16 years later they meet again – and have become two extraordinarily dissimilar women. Carla has a council flat, 4 children and another on the way while Heather has a career, a home that resembles an Ikea showroom and an ever-growing grudge. But why did Heather request they meet? And just how different have the two women become?
Written by Morgan Malcolm Lloyd and directed by Anna Simpson, The Wasp is a thriller, of sorts, but with a level of predictability. The characters are gross stereotypes, particularly Carla, who sports layers of jewellery, a scraped back ponytail and is permanently smacking gum between her over-lined lips. She cackles and smokes and shows little regard for anyone, least of all herself. Heather has some more depth, and the meat of the plot lies within her psyche, but she still fulfils the ‘scorned woman’ role and her actions at first seem purely revenge-driven, but later morph into an odd philosophical lecture on good versus evil, kindness versus violence etc., and it shifts the play into the realm of cautionary tale – like if EastEnders produced fables.
Despite possessing all the melodrama of your Mum’s favourite weekly soap, but with a properly dark backstory –The Wasp still leaves you wanting more. Both Gorgin and Giles perform well, if a little overzealously, and their full commitment to their roles is admirable. The Wasp does at times present conflicting ideals within the dialogue and tiring tropes, but it is unique in its core subject matter – how far can we carry a moment from our past, and just how much do these moments shape us in our future?
The Wasp is playing at Jermyn Street Theatre until August 12.
Photo: Andreas Grieger