Home / Drama / Playing with Grown-Ups, Theatre503, London

Playing with Grown-Ups, Theatre503, London

Director: Hannah Eidinow

Writer: Hannah Patterson

Reviewer: Sarah Nutland

[rating 3.5]

grownupsThe latest theatrical offering from new writing powerhouse Theatre503 is Playing with Grown-Ups, a new play by Hannah Patterson, directed by acclaimed director Hannah Eidinow.

The play explores the idea of modern women being able to do it all, but we observe the central character Jo struggling to cope with being a new mum, feeling as though she’s made a terrible mistake. Faced with her new life, Jo examines the things that led to this moment. As the audience join her on this journey the decisions she made are analysed as well as what it means to be a women. The play also explores relationships, the differences between men and women and how expectations rarely meet reality. The introduction of a very young character Stellar (16) helps highlight the complications in adult life against the simplicity of being a teenager. This also reminds the audience of the feeling of being desperate to grow up juxtaposed against the desire of an adult (Jo) to be young and have her time again.

The themes addressed in the play bring to the forefront the issues faced by women in society and the pressure to succeed at everything. It analyses the struggle between career and family life and whether it’s possible to have, or want, both. It also re-opens the debate about the legacy of feminism.Shane Attwooll plays the character of Jake effortlessly, with great confidence and stage presence. The other actors at times are less convincing, but still give strong performances, especially Trudi Jackson who plays Jo, which is a complex and emotionally taxing rôle.The design of the show bySimonScullion is traditional and simple, which suits the piece, but there is nothing that feels particularly original.

The piece is well written with very believable characters, a strong storyline, witty dialogue and a satisfying yet sad conclusion. All of the action takes place in the lounge of Jo and Robert’s flat over one evening, which works really well. Conversations flash back to old times conjuring a clear picture of their situation and current dramatic moments are captured with care in the scenes presented on stage. The character of Jo’s plight to bring forgotten female authors in to the public domain also works well against her own struggle as a woman in modern life. However, there were points where the explosions of emotion didn’t quite ring true due to a slight lack of prior build-up, but this doesn’t detract too much from the quality of the writing.

Overall the play is a solid piece of theatre with a rich compelling story and subject matter. It’s dramatic, funny and poignant in equal measures. Well worth a look, but take a fan and some water as it’s hot in there!

Runs until 8th June

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