DramaReviewSouth West

Women Like You – The Lab, Theatre Royal Plymouth

Writer: Katherine Stevens

Directors: Lucy Hirst and Katherine Stevens

Reviewer: Margarita Shivarova

Flip the Bird presents a play that elegantly challenges the role of prejudice and societal norms that affect the relationships between women. It does so by exploring underlying causes of differentiation based on looks, behaviour and moral decision on one’s path in life.

The ease with which Lucy Hirst and Katherine Stevens portray the characters of Charlie and Bridget helps the audience relate to the story of a clash between two strong personalities. From the very first scene of drunk Charlie breaking into Bridget’s apartment in desperate need to use the toilet, we see the light-heartedness of an extrovert meet the almost neurotic defensiveness of an introvert. This is mostly displayed physically through a contrast between Bridget’s pacing around the flat while Charlie makes herself comfortable by making a toast and having a lie-down. The pair slowly gets to know each other through the numerous witty jokes fired off by Charlie with regards to Bridget’s weirdness. Although we see commonalities in terms of language used by the two, as the conversation evolves we understand they do not share the same value systems at all. It is a shame that apart from the brief mentioning of the women’s backgrounds we do not see much of how their mothers, for instance, have influenced their perception of what a woman is judged by in society.

The play strikes a balance on a few levels. For the first half of the play Charlie’s interest and drive to know more about Bridget’s life gives her predominance. Equally, after Charlie’s mission to take Bridget out of her depressing flat on a night out is achieved, we see growth in Bridget’s confidence to express her thoughts. Thoughts on how much undeservingly better perceived and treated are women gifted with fit bodies and beautiful looks. Yet, this is appraisal and judgement we cannot help but question whether it is influenced by a generational norm or fuelled by mindful delusion. Another well-thought feature is how one of the main themes of judging a book by its cover is slowly revealed towards the core and end of the play although appearance is the most obvious difference one can suggest from the very beginning of the play without even hearing the first few lines. This speaks of great alignment between story, characters and staging.

From a technical point of view, both actors cover the whole stage which helps to highlight the tension and on the other hand dynamic between the two when necessary. Separating the short monologues at times is well supported by blue shaded lighting and music. Although the quick delivery of these moments of individual reflection fits the contemporary poetry style, at times the audience can benefit from a slightly slower pace in order to absorb the content.

Apart from the great cast and setting, the script is the essence of the play. Vibrant and comical, it makes the audience laugh on the second line and keeps the trend going for the whole duration of the play. This coupled with truthful confessions and a realistic picture of individual and largely societal struggles makes the play an enjoyable and thought-provoking experience.

Runs until: 28 July 2018 | Image: Contributed

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Humorous and realistic

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The Southwest team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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