Out of Love

This new work about female friendship and social class plays it safe

★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Out of Love
Published 11 Aug 2017

Lorna and Grace grew up together in the same Welsh town. The best of friends, they share everything with each other—boyfriends, secrets and crises—but when they reach the cusp of adulthood everything changes. Lorna's off to uni, but Grace's life takes an unexpected turn that means she has to stick around.

Elinor Cook's play is non-linear examination a female friendship and all its intricacies, both toxic and nurturing. Spanning 30 years, the audience sees the pair as young children, 30-year-olds and everything in between. The performances are generally good, though the younger they play, the more stereotypical the depiction.

A third actor plays all of the male characters, most of whom have a direct influence on how Grace and Lorna get along in any given moment. Though the two have great scenes together, much of their relationship is swayed by men, and usually negatively. It's a frustrating choice on Cook's part that results in their disempowerment as women.

Structurally, jumping around the chronology of their friendship works well, raising questions then later answering them. Bittersweet concluding scenes effectively avoid sentimentality.

The director skilfully uses the intimate, in-the-round venue. Transitions are clear, and circular staging heightened the competitive nature of the friendship. Moments of intimacy are centre staged, and conflict faces off across it.

Working class social mobility is a prominent takeaway from this play, though its more moving moments also stick. Otherwise, the story's reliance on men and sticking to a safe narrative is disappointing.