Brighton Fringe 2012
Two women are lovers; however Christine already has a husband and is pregnant with his baby. Her lover used to be her husband’s lover. How has this come about? The play takes us back six months to their first meeting where the build-up to the current state is established. The premise is a good one though it lacks dramatic tension. Lydia (Dee Forrest) is convincing and works hard at maintaining the tempo.
Lydia (Dee Forrest) is a forty something, single, sophisticated French woman, very much her own person who has pulled herself up by her bootstraps, and now lives life according to her own wishes and desires. Christine (Elena Odessa Ray) is quite different. She is married to Jacques (whom we do not see) and is from a bourgeois family with a highly puritanical approach to life and sex. She perceives herself to be an asexual being, recognises that her husband needs more and is therefore happy to accept the status quo of living together with him finding sexual gratification elsewhere. Until that is, she decides to meet his latest lover.
That would have been a good beginning to the play, but instead the play begins with a long scene in which we already see the denouement of Lydia and Christine as lovers. Christine declares that she is pregnant, wishes to leave Jacques, and intimates that she would like Lydia to co-parent. We are then transported back six months and the story unfolds to deliver us back to the point in which we left it earlier.
I can certainly see the reasoning for this; begin with a provocative scenario, two very different women forming a same sex relationship with a baby into the bargain. But what they lose is dramatic tension, which once gone has gone forever. However, having said that, I was intrigued as to how the relationship came about. The story is a good one, and yes, it is very French and retains that Gallic flavour even though I might not agree entirely with the statement on the programme that ‘this story could only happen in France’.
Christine decides to meet the woman with whom Jacques is having an affair, and contrives a visit to her on the pretext that Lydia is involved in a survey. Lydia, being quick and having more than her fair share of emotional intelligence, realises who her interviewee is, and plays along with it, even receiving a call from Jacques while his wife is seated there. Lydia entices Christine to meet up again, ostensibly to buy clothes that are more appropriate for a market researcher, rather than the elegant coat she wears. And so it goes on, until Christine finds the sexual being under the frigid exterior, and releases her inner – what? Certainly not dynamo. Although Lydia clearly thought she had struck gold, Christine came across to me anyway as a silly, rather petulant girl with whom I wouldn’t care to spend much more than a few minutes. Lydia, on the other hand, was far more interesting as a character with some real depth. And Dee Forrest was excellent in the role.
It is worth playing to strengths and this play missed out on this. An example is the set. We are told in the programme that ‘the apartment is well furnished and has the look of someone who has money and taste.’ This was certainly not the case and what they achieve by making such statements is to risk mockery. This is unfortunate as it is not easy in a low budget set to achieve such heights.
This is a devised piece of theatre. Devised theatre has such great potential though it often looks as though it would have benefited by having a writer or a director who made greater use of his thick blue pen. This play would certainly have been better with a tighter script. It was an enjoyable hour and a half though I can’t say by the end it didn’t feel as if it had been two hours.