Out of Love
Paines Plough, Orange Tree Theatre & Theatr Clwyd
Orange Tree Theatre
There is something intensely special about the long friendship of Lorna (Sally Messham) and Grace (Katie Elin-Salt) in Elinor Cook’s play Out of Love.
Grace’s brother Ted (Hasan Dixon) recognises it. As a child, he would sit outside his sister’s bedroom “and listen to the two of you. When you were in there it was like everything was brighter.”
We are taken through the decades from childhood games where they act out the marriage and divorce of parents, to the death of family members and through their turbulent relationships with fathers and boyfriends.
They share secrets, they squabble and at times seem on the verge of severing their friendship but they remain protective of each other.
Both go to a local comprehensive school but their backgrounds are slightly different. Lorna’s mother and stepfather work at the university while Grace is more solidly working class.
You can’t be sure of their future but you hear their dreams of escape from families they love, that can at times feel like a prison.
That is also how they feel about the men in their life who often seem puzzled by their behaviour and uncertain what to make of their friendship.
Lorna’s stepfather Christopher (Hasan Dixon) with his shelves of books on sex and gender has a sharp eye for what he imagines are sexual tensions. He thinks Grace’s visits to Lorna should be limited to two a week and preferably away from the bedroom.
But, as Grace says, “maybe people don’t understand what it can be like? That fire. Between two women.”
The decades fly past, not least because the show’s running time is only seventy minutes. There are numerous moving scenes between the women but the play can feel as if it is too impressionistic, the encounters the women have with male characters too similar.
It is however an uplifting story of a strong friendship between two women who dream of breaking free from the world they were born into. It is this which lingers with us for some time after the play ends.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna