Writer: Lucy Bell
Director: Stephanie Kempson
Reviewer: Chris Oldham
Addiction and recovery are just two of the themes up for discussion in Lucy Bell’s absorbing two-woman play, inspired by real-life accounts of parents using Bournemouth’s drug treatment services.
Hannah (Kathleen Fitzpatrick Milton) and Kirsty (Lara Simpson) are childhood friends whose lives begin to take very different paths when heroin sneaks in. Opening on a stage littered with toys, KFC wrappers and a clothes drier, the girls appear as children trying on their costumes for the school nativity play; before it’s straight into the delivery room as Hannah, aged 17, goes into labour. Soon it becomes clear that we’re moving – but never rushing – through the moments that shape them; through motherhood, drugs, violence, and beyond.
Lucy Bell’s tight script rarely veers off course. Laugh-out-loud lines sit unapologetically beside the frustration of witnessing these two young women trying to save each other, but never quite managing to be in the same place at the same time.
The staging is inventive and original, using sometimes only the smallest of props to propel us into the next scene, the next situation, the next revelation. Music plays a strong part too. Hannah and Kirsty’s a cappella renditions of their favourite songs see them through moments of innocence, hope and, in one shocking scene where Hannah takes the next step down the road to addiction, darkness.
As Kirsty, Simpson brings an endearing combination of sass, humanity and, as things slowly start to go wrong, desperation. Meanwhile Fitzpatrick Milton isn’t afraid to layer Hannah with a selfishness that makes her difficult to root for. The two young actresses play naturally off one another, leaving us with a believable – and welcome – glimmer of hope.
Self-destructive tendencies often warrant explanation. We know more about Kirsty – we know about her dad, her dog, when and why things started to spiral out of control. But Hannah remains more of a mystery. With Hannah, we’re never really sure whose fault it all is.
But then maybe that’s the point.
Runs until 10th April 2015 | Photo: Kitty Wheeler Shaw