3 Women – Reviewed

Rachael Jones on a triple shot of kitchen sink drama…

We can’t say we’ve ever seen a play in a coffee shop before, but hey, what’s life without new experiences, right? Our first caffeinated theatre comes in the form of Grin Productions’ 3 Women, held at Oomoo Café on Smithdown Road. Latte in hand, we settled in for numero uno.

First up is Craig Arnold’s The Game. As it’s a monologue delivered by a female actor we had a pretty good idea what we were getting into. As soon as she arrived on stage in a dangerously low-cut dress and fishnets and began applying makeup, our suspicions seemed confirmed. Elton John’s Sweet Painted Lady as an intro tune? Yeps, this is a lady of the night we’re dealing with here.

It’s too easy when dealing with a character as oft-stereotyped as a prostitute to fall into the trap of  using cliché to flesh her out; Arnold’s piece is refreshingly free of that sort of tripe. Instead, he’s crafted a piece that is witty, heart-breaking and extremely socially conscious. And that When Harry Met Sally moment? Hilarious. We definitely want what she’s having…

Yes, our lady spends a good bit of time swearing and waving her boobs about, but she’s also a mouthpiece for an exploration of issues such as love, denial, sexual perversion, class discrimination and the expectation on women to remove all their body hair. And then it turns out she’s being interviewed after being ‘outed’ as the bit on the side of a prominent politician – naturally, the BBC are interested in dramatizing it for posterity. Are we really that obsessed with dubious celebrity these days? You only need to see the Google Analytics page of Mail Online to know that Arnold is pretty spot on there.

Not everyone who has a tough time of it airs their dirty laundry on Jeremy Kyle; for some people it’s a little trickier. That’s the premise of Perfect, written and directed by Grin co-founder Simon James. This time out, our protagonist is a teenager. Seen on the last day of an apparently lengthy spell on a psychiatric ward, she’s not had a particularly good time of it.

But again, rather than rely on the stereotype this monologue gives us something a little different. Yes, so she went down the drink and drugs route and yes, her mum was a raging drunk. Her dad? Absent, naturally. But all this serves a bigger purpose here, with young Alf spending her monologue introspective, self-aware and articulate, exploring just what is it about her life – and ours – that makes us who we are. Jezza take note – this is how you put things out there.

We’d also like to think Alf referring to her therapist as a ‘psychological well-being practitioner’ is a nice nod to political correctness, too.

The final monologue was John Maguire’s Weave, and as we’ve been around Concert Square on a Saturday night (not recently, don’t judge us) the primary character was instantly recognisable. Rocking up at home having walked around town in her rollers, Arabella was the epitome of the typical ‘Scouse bird’. And she just dropped £300 on hair extensions…

This was the most high-concept of the three plays, switching between characters, accents, locations and even time periods incredibly smoothly considering the space and construction constraints. It’s a relatively simple conceit – the perils of consumerism – but the delivery of a ‘human hair extensions are bad’ monologue by a bald lady who sold every strand on her head is unexpectedly devastating. We’ve never worn anyone else’s hair on our head and after this, it’s safe to say we never will.

And kudos to actress Jennifer Bea for delivering one liners such as ‘she’s for a face that would bring a tear to a glass eye’ without even cracking a smile.

Grin’s 3 Women, then, have three very different lives and three very different reactions. But there’s one thing that ties them together; brutal honesty. For that, everyone involved deserves a huge round of applause. We’d also quite like to give all the ladies a big hug.

Rachael Jones

Posted on 01/05/2012 by thedoublenegative