In this new play by debbie tucker green we are privy to the searing pain, as well as the love, frustration and vitriol, that you find within the relationships of three couples. It is a beautifully written play in which life is complex, sad and real.
The greatest focus is on the first couple, A (Lashana Lynch) and B (Gershwyn Eustache Jnr). They take writer/director debbie tucker green’s words and they deliver them faultlessly, every beat as she intended. There is a wonderful lyrical poetry, whether they are going through in love times or not talking times. They have arguments we have all had and they say some ‘poetical shit’ which, ironically, is gorgeously poetical. Their relationship is familiar to us as it fluctuates and ebbs, and the hurtful words really do hurt. They talk about what it looks like to feel something, whether both or none of them ever felt it at all. Lines when they remember their favourite bits of each other are musical and intimate. When it is bitter between them, we physically cringe.
The second couple we meet has fewer tender moments. They are less beguiling than A and B but, again, theirs is a familiar relationship which alternates between bitterness and dependency. Woman (Meera Syal) spits out words at Man (Gary Beadle), who can’t seem to speak or do or listen right. This section of the play is also about how we look and whether we are listening to each other and if it is possible to apologise. Beadle does not come across as so comfortable with the words and his speed of speaking makes it harder to catch the lines.
The final couple is Beadle’s Man without the old man cardigan on, with his now girlfriend Young Woman (Shvorne Marks), the grown up daughter of A. We come full circle in this story of characters but the final part does not work as well. These two are not as well drawn and the pace is lost a bit. Personally, I could have stayed with A and B for the entirety of the play. The actors and their delivery of tucker green’s lyrics make these two characters absolutely mesmerising – even when it is not their turn to speak.
As ever, the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs has been transformed (design by Merle Hensel). The audience sits in a middle area looking up onto the stage which is like a walkway constructed around us on three sides. The aquamarine walls function like chalk boards, and the cast moves around the stage, sometimes drawing chalk lines on the walls, at other times staring blankly when not active in a scene. We sit on stools which swivel round, our knees necessarily touching strangers’ knees, staring at and over other strangers to watch the action. tucker green directs the play so that the characters trade insults at each other from different sides of the room, that is across the heads of the audience. You find yourself torn, having to choose which character to watch, as you can’t turn around fast enough on your stool. When you are trying to catch every word and every silence delivered so perfectly by Lynch and Eustache Jnr, you really do end up with a crick in the neck.
hattydaze rating: ***/*****
I attended a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun) on a press ticket. It plays at the Royal Court Theatre until 1st April 2017.